|A fertile "edge" near the summit of Ben Lomond.|
Conflicting with a vision of time on the water, a chorus of “voices” whispered their annoying demands - various chores calling out for attention. Our home is located in a forest, literally. In this wet, winter, Vancouver Island climate, that means constant vigilance. Nature has an understandable desire to want to supersede our attempts at "tidiness". The deck had a slight green tinge to it. "So what!", I bravely countered...but it nibbled away at my resolve. Surrendering, I filled a bucket of hot water, hooked up the hose, and attended to this little job - scrubbing the vinyl covering, as “mindfully” as possible.
In the meantime, Nick’s words turned over and over in my mind...
The job complete, I was putting the hose away, and noted that the gravel path along the side of the house had birthed little weeds and a “brush cut” of tiny blades of grass, giving it a similar “green” tinge. It looked, well, unkempt. I found the gardening stool and rake, and began the task of freeing up the little gravel pebbles from the emerging undergrowth - again, as mindfully as possible.
But, Nick’s words turned over and over in my mind...
Quickly feeling overwhelmed by what would clearly be a day-long enterprise, I determined enough was enough! Returning the tools to their storage areas, I couldn’t help but notice a landscape timber that needed replacing, overgrown lavender that needed trimming, branches that had fallen in the last windstorm that needed picking up.
And, Nick’s words turned over and over in my mind...
“We left...to wake up and be closer
to the fertile, dangerous edges of our lives.”
Nick Thorpe is a British journalist and a writer. He and his wife, Ali, a social worker, decided to leave the security of their home and staff jobs in Edinburgh, and travel to South America. Why? Because they felt they needed “to wake up and be closer to the fertile, dangerous edges of their lives”. During the time that they were away, Nick (with Ali’s generous and selfless blessing) undertook a most improbable journey. He and seven crew mates set out to sail from Northern Chile to Easter Island, a dangerous, oceangoing journey of 2,500 miles - on a boat made of reeds. Extraordinarily, not one crew member had significant sailing experience.
The account of the voyage aboard the Viracocha is absolutely riveting, and it is humbling. But it's the “wake up call” to which Nick and Ali respond, that is something I just can’t get out of my mind. As this New Year begins to unfold, we feel called to think about what it might mean to seek out what Nick describes as the “fertile, dangerous edges”.
I don't think these "dangerous edges" have anything to do with cliff jumping, cave diving, or solo trekking to the North Pole. They are much more sublime. Could it be that they are the experiences we have when we reach and stretch further than we ever have before? Are they where some of life's most precious and hidden "gems" reside? Are they the meaningful opportunities that can only discovered by the the paths less-travelled? Are they hidden contexts where we are able to make unique and especially meaningful contributions to the lives of others? Or are these fertile, dangerous "edges" simply where we will naturally find ourselves when unnecessary fears and anxiousness about the unknown, are put aside...and when we live bravely and without reservation?
You may already have a sense of what it might mean in your life? Perhaps you have already chosen to travel there.
For us, the questions intrigue, and beg exploration in these early days of a New Year.
(The weeds, creating the green-tinge on the gravel path beside our house, will simply have to wait.) :)
May health, happiness, warm relationships, and opportunities to enrich others be part of your meaning-filled "journey" in 2014.
A great read (as are all of Nick's books!): Eight Men and a Duck: An Improbable Voyage by Reed Boat to Easter Island by Nick Thorpe.