Tuesday, August 27, 2013

More and more miles from shore every year...

"Now I drive my Downeaster Alexa
more and more miles from shore every year."
- Billy Joel

Leaving the shore, ready for the day's adventure.
There was a window of opportunity to get back on the water yesterday and the forecast was promising some lively conditions off the north shore of Gabriola Island. The plan was to paddle out towards Entrance Island .

For the sea kayaker, there's always a thrill and a sense of excitement as the shore is left behind, with the day's promised adventure unfolding ahead. Paddling out, I found myself thinking about a line in a Billy Joel song that goes, "more and more miles from shore every year." How true that is in life. 

Life's "shores" are places that are familiar, knowable, comfortable, and safe. We're sometimes reluctant to leave the known behind...for the unknown. I remember leaving home for the first time, to attend university in another city - a whopping 45 miles away! Excited, yes, but a tiny bit anxious too. And then there was enrolment with the Canadian Forces chaplaincy, with the required 14 weeks of army BOTC (basic training)...bearded, long-haired, and ten years a parish minister. ("I'm going to have to do what?!") Early mid-life crisis? Well, maybe. Most of life's significant events are like that. Whether it's leaving home for the first time, discerning / changing an occupation, choosing a life-partner, having children, moving from one place to another, retiring (or "re-configuring" as I call it) - there's excitement, but there may also be anxiety. 

Sometimes, we leave one shore behind, with no real sense of where or when another shore will greet us. We need to be confident, however, that there is usually a map and compass within us that will guide us on our way. Yes, sometimes that takes trust.

Trust...when no "shoreline" is in sight.
I've learned, over the years, that the willingness to leave the familiar and comfortable behind to explore new horizons has always been the right thing to do. There have certainly been times of second-guessing but the new discoveries that one makes along the way and the personal growth that accompanies those discoveries makes it all worthwhile - and more.

"Shores" (in a metaphorical sense) help us locate ourselves and provide sources of meaning and value. When we leave the familiar, we need to trust that we will discover new sources of meaning that will sustain and give our lives value.

The thing is, even when we find ourselves in life's "troughs", we must trust that the next wave will bring us up again and offer to us enhanced "visibility". We will see that wherever we go, there will be a new and unexplored shore waiting for us.

In the trough, but on the way up.
And then, we can set a bearing for it.

Entrance Island, straight ahead.
It was a good day's paddle. The sea, as promised, was lively. For me, there was a brief situation in between Gabriola and Entrance Islands when I wished I hadn't left the shore behind - a rather large breaking wave, while both hands were on the camera - and not the paddle! When all was said and done, however, the day's adventure was worth every "off shore" moment of anxiety.

And there's always time for one more picture. :)

Keep your hands on the paddle, Joan!
"More and more miles from shore every year" - your experience in life too? Shorelines, after all, really are the perfect "launch" sites.

As always, thanks for coming by.



  1. Yes it takes trust... and lots of courage to move forward in life and on to new "adventures". You two have done it well all your lives.
    Did your paddle actually fall into that rough looking water?
    L (who enjoys the view from the shoreline :)

  2. Haha! No it was all fine, L. Just another example of my occasional "attention deficit". It really is difficult to focus on two tasks at the same time - picture taking and paddling! :) D.

  3. That is so, SO true Duncan. Thank you. Gen.

  4. Thank you, Gen, always good to hear from you. Warm wishes from us both. Duncan.

  5. As always, nicely said. Sometimes (sigh...) the "map and compass within us" appear to be hard to read! Hugs to you both.

  6. So nice to hear from you, Jackie. Yes, it's true, I know very well how difficult discerning "directions" can be. I guess that's where the trust comes in - trusting that feeing deep inside. Warm wishes to you and Dennis. D&J