As you simplify your life,
the laws of the universe will be simpler;
solitude will not be solitude,
poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.
- Henry David Thoreau
|Companionship with sea and sky...and my paddling partner.|
Once upon a time, as an (almost) gregarious young university student, I could never have imagined finding such respite in solitude. My vocation, of almost four decades, has provided the privilege of deep involvement in the intricate fabric of the lives of so many wonderful folks over the years, but it has left very little time to properly nurture deep and abiding friendships. There are many reasons for that - as simple as the fact that on weekends and holidays, when most folks are free, I am committed. As for the rest of the time...I am usually committed. We are fortunate that we find, not only respite, but joy in self-propelled activities such as sea kayaking and time together on the forest trails. The perceived "loneliness of the long distance runner" is not really so lonely when there is a degree of companionship in nature.
I know that, over the years, some may have wondered about what has seemed to have been a casual attitude towards maintaining relationships on our part. It has always been about insufficient time or energy - not will. We have always wished that there could have been a more "normal" (and predictable!) schedule. That wasn't to be and we have had to accept that reality - a very long time ago. There has also been the element of having lived in various and diverse places over the years - in five provinces and on two continents. Although it is a gift to meet and work with so many special individuals and families, you say a lot of "goodbyes", over the years. That's never easy. Do we wish there had been more time to nurture and enrich special relationships? Yes, of course.
As we approach the time in our lives when, together, we will search out and investigate new sources of meaning, we have found our perspective changing on a great number of things. Bathrooms, for example. We have three such "facilities" in our home - and two people. We have four bedrooms...and two people. In terms of the way most of the world lives, we have enough square footage to house a small community. OK, so that's a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the point.
As "retirement" draws closer, we look forward to the need to reduce, dramatically, in terms of material possessions. Quite honestly, I think we'll both be content with a view, our small flotilla of three kayaks - and two pairs of minimalist running shoes. (Yes, that's probably a small exaggeration too.) We don't intend to stop "working", just doing the same thing in some different ways, perhaps in some different places. In any case, Thoreau's "laws of the universe" will, indeed, become simpler. There will be more time to enjoy the company of others, perhaps sharing the "solitude" of sea and sky in narrow, sea boats and actually having the luxury of time, afterwards, to sit around a campfire in the afterglow of the day's paddle. There will be more time to enjoy conversation, with a friend, over an ice cream float and maybe even see the internal architecture of a marine pub! :)
There will always be times to be alone on the water, enjoying just the company of sea and sky, seals and sandstone shores. There will, however, also be occasions to share that same solitude and deeply appreciate the companionship of others in ways that are meaningful and enriching.
We treasure the present moment but we also treasure the unexplored paths to come. I profoundly believe that life really is about never-ending exploration and discovery. That must always include valuing and caring deeply for others...and nurturing relationships in all the ways that we can.
When such is the case, there are choices to be made along the way, but there are never regrets.
Image: Paddling on the Canada's Salish Sea, our marine "neighbourhood" - truly a world of sea to sky.