Sunday, September 25, 2011

Paddling thoughts: On moving to live "lightly" and discerning what really matters.

Simple enough - a "rest stop" for weary kayakers?
As many of you (who pause to read this little blog from time to time) will understand, we all usually think with greater clarity while moving - so long as it's self-propelled. So here's fair warning: if you find me sitting at my desk, don't expect too much. :)

Paddling and trail running, for me, are both a form of "moving meditation". The imagination is set free. Thoughts flow freely and without restraint. Solutions come quickly to mind. Perhaps that's been your experience too?

Kayaking by this "structure" in the Saanich Inlet the other day, reminded me of "Water World". Remember the movie? Kevin Kostner was the mariner surviving in a world where the ice caps had melted, covering all the dry land with water. I really have no idea what we were paddling by, but it looked a little like a "rest stop" for weary "Water Worlders".

As we paddled together, Joan and I were reflecting on the fact that for years and years, we have shared with folks that we would be happy to live in a simple cabin in the woods. The reality is, however, that over the years, the places we have called "home" have become bigger and bigger. Yes, there was always some common sense "rational". We needed some extra room for my mother during the time we enjoyed having her live with us, or for our son when he visited, or for company when they stopped by, or just space to "ramble". There was always some good reason or another to have more land and square footage.

So, what was it going to be - a "simple cabin in the woods" or a whole bunch of square feet on a nicely forested acre of land? Well, I'll be honest, we've really appreciated the latter for the past nine years. Having said that, I know very well that the vast majority of people in the world don't have the luxury of such choices. And I'm more than humbled by that thought.

Life is a developing "adventure" and we've come to the time in life when we know we need to discern what really matters - and, perhaps, make more concerted efforts to live "lightly". Since cancelling our cable television service, we have discovered that TV didn't much matter after all. After just a month of being "unhooked" we don't even think about it.  (OK, so I do occasionally miss Clair Martin's weather reports on CBC).  Looking at our "treasures and belongings", it seems that sentimental value is just about all that matters. The rest, well, it's just stuff - and some of it (packed inside boxes) hasn't seen daylight for a very long time. We don't, in fact, really know what's inside some of them! I'm somewhat embarrassed to make that admission.

So what does matter? Well, people matter. Family is simply precious, priceless.  Friends matter, so very, very much...even if it's been a long time since there has been a connection or an occasion for the sharing of a glass of red wine. Time apart must not be reason to give up on each other. The folks we have had the honour of working with and the folks we have so happily served over many years, in Canada and abroad, are of infinite worth.

The world "outdoors" matters. That, of course, means that our paddling equipment, our bikes, and our running gear must go wherever we go.

Saltspring Island, ahead.
Connection with the world and with some very special people, through this internet medium, matters and satellite radio is something that I confess I would really miss. So yes, these technologies would have to find a place in the "simple cabin in the woods". "Images" matter, so whether they are in the form of old photo albums, slides, or digital images, spending time with them bring a lifetime of memories into the present moment. They too, are "keepers".

Making a meaningful and positive contribution to the world and doing whatever one can to support or better the lives of others matters.

In a year from now, we will transition to the simple cabin in the woods. Certainly, there will be some growing pains - or perhaps they will be more like "shrinking" pains as we embark upon this journey. As I'm sure you will agree, just the simple exercise of discerning what, indeed, really is important in life might well be the most valuable lesson learned.

You may well have already discovered, in your journey through the years, what matters most of all. Perhaps, you have a moment to share a thought here. Such lessons learned touch us all...and enrich our experience of life.

More to time.


PS There's a great launch spot for kayaks at Mill Bay, just to the south of us, for exploring the Saanich Inlet and Finlayson Arm. It was another calm and sunny paddling day in the west coast extended summer!


  1. Thrilled and scared for you guys all in the same fleeting moment.

    The most important thing I've learned along the journey is most people have no idea what life is. How simple it is. What it's like to live it.

    I really want to hear more on this life altering change coming!!

  2. Thanks for that, Lee. I keep going back to the Annie Dillard quote at the top of the blog - "we are here on the planet only once." Just seems that we owe it to ourselves and the planet to keep it simple. Not sure why it's taken me so long to figure that out. You've got the right idea. We'll keep you posted. Take good care. D.

  3. So, moving to Gabriola then? Trust me, you won't miss your house and there'll be more time and freedom for everything else you want to do. Look forward to hearing about the transition!

  4. Hi Jill, probably the "little cabin" on Gabe but many options are open. We love it here so we're in no hurry for the next year to pass. It’s a “project in progress” - step by step. Great to hear from you. D.

  5. It will be another exciting adventure and I am sure you will love life on the smaller island. It is good to see that you listed family and friends above your kayaks!

  6. Hmm...that's weird, I meant to put the kayaks and running gear first. Ah, just kidding. ;) Thanks L!