Monday, April 27, 2015

Peace-filled days, adrenaline-fuelled moments...and the avoidance of "quiet desperation".

Kayaking to and around the various southern Gulf Islands along the east coast of Vancouver Island, is always a good adventure. At times the water is very calm, as it was this day. There's a pretty good fetch along the Trincomali Channel, however, and the paddler can be treated to some impressive rolling and breaking waves.

The launch spot at Fernwood, on Saltspring Island, is a great place to explore Wallace Island and the offshore islets in the channel. A second crossing over to Galiano Island, expands the day and makes for a nice circuit.

Sea kayaking can bring wonderful, peace-filled moments that last all day long...the afterglow, still softly burning as one falls asleep at night. The regular reach and draw of the double-bladed paddles propel the narrow boat along, creating what becomes, for me, a contemplative state.

It's not always that way. A month or so ago, while on the North Sea, both Joan and I were treated to a rather surprisingly "energetic" breaking wave, along the port side of our kayaks. So filled with the joy of being where we were, we had lost a degree of situation awareness. We had become less than vigilant...and we had also paddled unnecessarily close to the ruins of the old, concrete breakwater at Auchmithie.

We were both were able to brace successfully into the rolling foam but in the next moment of time, I found myself staring down at the sea, and out towards Norway (!), the stern of my kayak having been thrown up on the breakwater. It happened so quickly, I cannot even remember it happening. Whether it was "muscle memory" or (more than likely) incredibly good luck, balance was maintained long enough for another wave to wash my boat and I back to the safety of actually floating again. It was a mistake to be so close to the crumbling concrete in that swell, where a rescue would have been difficult.

So there are peace-filled days, and adrenaline fuelled moments. The former give our spirits refreshment and restoration, the latter test and stretch us. It's the "quiet desperation" in life that needs to be avoided.

Thoreau wrote about "quiet desperation". When people speak about the "same old, same old", that may be quiet desperation. When I hear someone leave the weekend behind, to go "back to the grind"...that may bespeak quiet desperation. Describing ones life as "ho hum"....quiet desperation creeping in?

When life gets "busy" and we forget to explore or discover or investigate or seek out new learning or growing experiences...we tempt quiet desperation.

Sometimes we just succumb to "blowing in the wind", the resulting sense of powerlessness can open the door to, yes, quiet desperation.

When we live distracted lives, and forget that each moment is precious, and irreplaceable...we give the nod to quiet desperation.

Peace-filled moments...(occasional) adrenaline-fuelled moments...I rather like such things.

Both usher in a gentle sense of joy, accomplishment, and satisfaction...

...and when the sun sets, and the boats are back on the racks, it just feels like it's been a good day.

You probably know exactly what I mean. :)


  1. Just a perfect day, I hope you and Joan enjoy an endless summer filled with such days :o)

    1. Thank you for your kind thoughts, Douglas. It looks like it's been cool over your way! Wishing you warm wishes and perfect paddling days. :) Duncan.

  2. What a great day that looks; and I know exactly what you mean Duncan..... we thought your brief encounter with the Auchmithie breakwater was rather impressive - especially the bracing skills! :o)

    warm wishes

    1. Hi Ian, in that brief moment of awareness, before going stern end-airborne, I knew you and Douglas and Mike were close by and would have got things sorted. ;) Joan has reminded me of that a number of times! :) Many thanks and warm wishes. Duncan.