Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Like ships passing in the night...

Society is commonly too cheap.
We meet at very short intervals,
not having time
to acquire any new value for each other.
- Henry David Thoreau

Joan, and a deep sea tug - enjoying the comforting solitude.
When the seas and the skies are grey, during these autumn mornings, there is a comforting solitude on the water.  On this day, for the longest time, there was just the two of us, and a deep sea tug. Soon, it too was gone, a tiny smudge on the horizon, leaving us alone again. The time of connection was brief, only a "short interval".

The gently rolling surface waters lulled us both into a meditative mood, one of the greatest pleasures of occupying the cockpit of a tiny craft on a vast ocean. Paddles dipping quietly into the cool waters, cadence steady, I drank in the solitude, thankful for the experience. And even more thankful that the day's worries elected to stay on the shore. With a bit of luck, they would completely dissipate by the time we returned to the launch spot. I know that many of you will understand well the feeling that follows a few hours in the kayak.

I am reading Walden; Life in the Woods again - but it feels like it is for the first time. I suspect my mind is only now sufficiently receptive to make sense of Thoreau's words. At my age, it's probably about time.

Seldom, it seems, do our minds have the opportunity to spend time with their own thoughts. Our lives are so busy and there are so many distractions. Our attempts to "multi-task" seem only to serve to exhaust us and leave us feeling unsatisfied. I suspect that is what the writer from Concord is describing when he suggests that "most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them." I wonder if modern women are prone to the same experience? Hmm... I must ask Joan and those I work with for their thoughts on this. As for me, as I'm sure for you, I want to sing the song while I'm here!

Many of us are so busy that life itself is not unlike the magnificent countryside, that is completely missed by the harried occupants of the speeding car - all oblivious to everything but insidious worries and nagging concerns and, perhaps, other traffic.

I'm sure we don't, routinely, spend sufficient time with our own thoughts. Indeed, these thoughts are "treasures" that call out to be savoured. Those who meditate, or engage in contemplative prayer, or paddle lonely seascapes know well the value of spending time with their innermost being. We emerge from these experiences refreshed. There is a deep satisfaction, indeed, happiness available to those who would dare to disconnect from the "merry-go-round", if only but for awhile.

It is the same with our engagement with others. As Thoreau says, all too often, "we meet at very short intervals". In my vocation, I may meet a couple of hundred folks every week. We exchange a handshake, a few words, a smile, a laugh, sometimes a tear. I yearn for more, however, for I know that each of these very special individuals are of great value...but there never seems to be enough time for any of us. I find that frustrating, and sometimes, a source of loneliness.

I appreciate so very much the bloggers that I read regularly. As insignificant as it seems, the shared "comments" serve as the tiny building blocks to a "friendship" that is more than "virtual". The words, that folks take time to share, are a gift. I often think that it would be even better if we could have a coffee together, or spend some time on the water. The building of human relationships are all about acquiring "new value" for each other. Henry David is right again. Acquiring "new value", however, takes time and effort. It also takes courage...for we must become vulnerable. The reward is that the fabric that makes up our relationships and our society transitions to a deep richness. We are no longer as "ships passing in the night".

Taking the time to discern our own thoughts and discover "new value" in one another - as the old Sam Cooke song goes, "what a wonderful world this would be".


Image: Once again, paddling the Salish Sea, off the coast of Gabriola Island towards Entrance Island. It's a favourite place on the water for both of us. The vastness of the "fetch" humbles the paddler of the narrow craft - and clears the mind of clutter.

PS Happy birthday, mum, and bless you.


  1. Sometimes I feel I spend too much time in thought but you are right, we need to slow down, give ourselves the time to just be instead of trying to fit too many things into our lives.Time alone does leave one feeling refreshed and recharged.
    Just think of all the wonderful things you will soon be able to do and the connections you will make!
    Wishing I was bobbing along on the water!

  2. Well, L, if we have all the time that you think we're going to have, you'd better get ready to do some paddling! We'll look forward to the company on the water. :) D&J

  3. Such valuable, inspiring and significant words you always write - thank you. Sheila

  4. Thank you for your generous words, Sheila, and, as always, thank you for stopping by. Cheers. D.

  5. Awesome read. Thanks for being vunerable and throwing out thoughts on your site!! Enjoy the journey with Walden!

  6. I know it's a "journey" that you enjoy, Lee. And now you're livin'' the "Legend" too - she's a beauty. Hmm, might have to drop by Chemainus and have a look! D.

  7. Beautiful read! Have you started writing your book yet? :)
    Jen Gorin

  8. Gosh, thanks Jen. I haven't...but it's a good excuse to gather up a few more adventures! :) Warmest wishes to you all. D&J.

  9. Nice post, and it hits home. I try and take the time to meditate, but I should really make the time. I feel it is that important, but unfortunately life gets in the way. I have a theory that our high tech - instant messaged, emailed, every second is a video or photo - life is making it harder for us to be in the moment and comfortable being in our own thoughts. I know a number of people that - when driving - have to call people, because otherwise they would be trapped with themselves. it makes me sad. again, thanks for the post, your bordering on Buddhism :-)


  10. Valuable counsel, PO. there is indeed such a difference between "taking" the time, and "making" the time. I think too that your theory is correct. It seems the instant gratification sought in sending and receiving messages tempts us away from the deeper, more meaningful moments that require a process of patient discovery...a richness you know so well. Thanks PO. D.