Thursday, March 29, 2012

The tangible sense of restlessness...and the calm that it brings.

The "calming", but restless waters of Skookumchuck Narrows.
Skookumchuck Narrows, just over on the mainland, links the land-locked Sechelt Inlet with Jervis Inlet and the Salish Sea. Although we've paddled on either side of the Narrows, we've never kayaked where and when the water is running - and believe me, we never will. Ever. There are few places in the world where tidal rapids run this fast -  the water moves in excess of 16 knots (30 kph)! When the tides change, billions of gallons of water move through the narrow channel. As some will know, folks do paddle there in sea kayaks, when it's raging, and it looks awesome.

Camping in nearby Egmont and paddling mainly in Prince of Wales Reach, we would leave our kayaks safely strapped to the roof racks and hike out to Skookumchuck on the 4 km trail, to watch the restless water boil and swirl past us. It was exhilarating, stirring...and yet calming, all at the same time. I've been thinking about that recently - the calming influence of restlessness.

Children who are restless are frequently admonished to "calm down". When adults are restless, they are advised to "chill". Folks who are seen to be "restless souls" are told to "relax" or be more grateful for what they have and where they are in life.

I am, for the most part, a relatively calm individual. I've learned, over the years, that very little is gained from being agitated and angst-filled - except distress. That's bad stress. I also feel, however, a sense of restlessness, even a mild sense of urgency. And I don't think that's such a bad thing.

The restlessness I feel is not agitation. It's not thanklessness or ingratitude for what is - it's a yearning. It's a hunger to live life as fully as is possible - and not at some future time that may never come, but now. We all know, but sometimes forget, that life is short. For some, it is so tragically short. Life can, as they say, "turn on a dime" - and it often does. And yet all too often, we defer life. We postpone "living" until the kids are grown up, or until we get the "perfect" job, or until the mortgage is paid off, or until we're retired, or until whatever proverbial "ducks" we may choose are in a row. I have an overwhelming feeling that's a big mistake.

About to "exercise" restlessness - the calm to come. (Degnen Bay, Gabriola)
We've only got this very moment. My partner in life has always felt that same restlessness. The times when we have traded security and comfort for the uncertainties of a new direction or a new adventure have ultimately been deeply enriching and personally rewarding. And I think we've still been able to do some good for others. Of course, there were lots of anxious moments and some second thoughts. But...we've never regretted those times in life when we've "thrown all caution to the wind".

As we approach another time of potential vulnerability and fewer safety nets, of less certainty and greater risk, there is, at its very foundation, a tangible sense of restlessness. Strangely, it is calming.



  1. A very powerful post Duncan. Thanks for reminding me to keep life simple. I really needed your words of wisdom tonight. :-)


  2. Mark, I'm so glad the words spoke to you in some meaningful way. Warm regards to you both. D.

  3. I can't wait for summer. I cant wait for the weekend. I can't wait for retirement. Your soooo right. How many times do we hear those phrases during our short time on this planet.

    Your absolutely right....I CANT wait. Lifes too short to afford waiting.

    thanks for this. the safety nets as I mentioned over on my site echo our experiences over here on the rock.

    Thanks for this!

  4. I appreciate your comment, Lee,and your enthusiasm for filling each precious moment. Hey, maybe it's 'cause we both live on an island that nurtures that restlessness to explore and discover. We won't stop doing that. :) Duncan.

  5. Restlessness...maybe that is what I feel when I try and spend a weekend at home and why I book up my calendar so much but I am not very good at new adventures....maybe we should try bungee jumping...what do you think? Would that be calming?

  6. OK L, I guess I asked for that one. Bungee jumping? Calming? Nah, I don't think so. But I'm happy to drive you up to the one up Island? You on? Joan and I will video the "jump". We could make it a fund raiser for a special project. I'm liking this more and more. :)