Saturday, November 26, 2011

West Coast storm season, no paddling...and times when you can't see the forest (trail) for the ferns!

"A good traveler has no fixed plans, 
and is not intent on arriving."
- Lao Tzu

"I know there's a trail here...somewhere!"
That's all very well,  Lao Tzu, but some days I DO have plans and, quite frankly, I AM intent on arriving! But the fact is, life's "undergrowth" and storm season on the West Coast can obscure the way, trip you up, and make it darn near impossible to find anything to blog about! Yeah, I guess that's what the Bard of Ayrshire was talking about when he suggested that "The best laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft a-gley."! You got that right, Robbie!

We've been trying to get back out paddling for what seems like an eternity! The problem is, we've had one fierce storm after another here on Canada's beautiful "Pacific Island". With 140 kph gusts, wicked seas, torrential rains, floods, power outages, falling trees, black ice, and closed highways, launching the kayaks just hasn't happened. Oh sure, there were a couple of absolutely PERFECT "eye of the hurricane" days when the winds were calm and the sun was shining, but those were (coincidentally) busy days in the workplace. Go figure, eh?

Rather like a trail run a few days ago. We set off - with a plan (route) in mind.

Well, it didn't go as smoothly as planned.

The first hill aggravated my achilles - again! Eventually warming up, the dull ache in the tendon relaxed...until the next hill. This was not part of the plan. The downhill portions were slippery with mud and wet leaves making for some heart-stopping moments when it seemed that our feet might achieve a higher "altitude" than our toque-covered heads - not a pretty "end state" at our age! The trail finally flattened out and my body parts relaxed again. OK, we're back on "plan".

The trail however, became increasingly covered by a thick carpet of massive, yellow, deciduous leaves and downed branches and limbs knocked off by wind storms. Giant ferns, that were waist-high the last time, brushed our faces as we tried to maintain forward momentum - now just guessing where the trail was and trying not to get tripped up by hidden and obscured obstacles.

It just wasn't going according to plan. You can get all out of shape at a time like this this,


you can throw all expectations and pre-conceived notions aside. Forget about the "plan".

Accepting the moment for what it is, and simply appreciating the miracle of life (that permits time in a glorious rain forest), changes perspective completely. Life usually is what it is. Paddling with the tide can make for a fast and exhilarating ride. Sometimes it makes perfect sense just to go with however life flows, especially if there is nothing else you can do about it.

I try to remember theologian Reinhold Niebuhr's prayer, "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference."

The storms will eventually settle. A "window" for kayaking will open at an opportune and, perhaps delightfully surprising time. In the meantime, this moment is the only one we have. Inhale it, be fully immersed in it. Most important, be thankful for it. For it will only come by this way but once. As Lao Tzu suggests, "fixed plans" and the need to "arrive" are both greatly over-rated.

Thank goodness!



  1. Advent, the time for waiting. is here. Not always easy but a time for stillness and reflection.

  2. "The storms will eventually settle" - and they do, every single time. So easy to forget that, when you're in the middle of them. Thanks for the reminder, Duncan. Gen

  3. Good point L, waiting is rarely easy. But times of "waiting" are indeed opportunities for stillness and reflection. Takes some discipline. D.

    Thanks for that, Gen. I forget that too. Once again, takes concerted effort and practice. But it's sure worth nurturing it. A great practice for stress relief! D.