Monday, November 23, 2015

Compassion, and living in a world of wind and swell...the "paddle" we must never let go.


Paddling these narrow boats on the sea is a multifaceted experience. On calm days, forward momentum is almost effortless...the rhythm and even cadence of the easy paddle strokes offer an almost meditative experience. Muscle memory is the captain of this ship in these conditions. It is possible to disengage the mind, and allow the imagination full reign. There is only the moment. The world of sea, sky, and land becomes a "dreamscape". Everything is possible...the limitations of time evaporate. There is a sense that one could paddle forever...until the cramped quarters and snug cockpit eventually remind the body that it is time to stretch, for a moment or two of respite...or even a little "shore time". It's never hard work though.

On days when wind and swell delight in the creation of pitch, yaw, and roll, the paddler works much harder. Physical forces acting on the boat demand an equal and opposite reaction. The boat, left to its own devices, is happy to go with the flow. In a beam wind, it wants to weathercock its bow into the wind, just like a rooftop rooster, defining the direction of the wind. The paddler strains to balance all these forces, and maintain his chosen course and direction. 

The fact is, we live in a world of "wind and swell"...it is rarely quiet on any front. Our own personal lives are subject to turbulence and uncertainty and the often heart-wrenching abyss of the unknown. In the world at large, daily headlines tell of impossibly frightening events...

There can so easily be a sense of powerlessness.

In the midst of such conditions, the paddler would never throw his paddle into the sea, and his hands up in despair. He would not give in and throw himself into the waves.

She would stay the course...maintaining course and direction, confident in her abilities and trusting in those who have taught her well. There would be no thought to giving up...or giving in. There would only be renewed determination and courageous resolve, not only to stay afloat and right-side-up, but to return safely to the launch.


Our world needs resolve, determination, courage, and an unswerving belief that we are not powerless, nor do we have to live in fear. There is no stronger nor more compelling force in the world than compassion. Throughout history, those who have changed the world for the better were not the paranoid nor the revengeful. They were not the ones who would shrink away and isolate themselves from formidable challenges. They were not those who would build walls, or turn away (or deport) the homeless and the helpless, or dismiss something as threatening as climate change as "just weather". They were not those whose ability to love was ever "trumped" by the fears they chose to embrace.

Those whose lives enrich the world are the ones who live with compassion and who never, ever, give up on wanting the best for those with whom we share this planet, and most especially those who are most vulnerable. They are the ones we will remember forever, for their example and their courageous leadership against any and all odds.

The fact is, living our lives with compassion makes us strong. 

It is, admittedly, a world of wind and swell, and sometimes terrible storm...but compassion's "muscle memory" will propel us, and ensure our safe passage as a human family. 

It's the "paddle" we must never let go.

10 comments:

  1. Very well expressed! A lot of wisdom in those words. Keep on paddling!

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    1. Thank you for that, Leif. We won't ever let go of that paddle. Our warm wishes to you.

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  2. Timely and perceptive words Duncan, thank you for posting

    Warm wishes to you both

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    1. Thank you, Ian, much appreciated. Warm wishes to you.

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  3. Well written Duncan, thank you. It is amazing how something simple like paddling can transport us away from the artificiality and excess of modern life and bring us back to earth and reality so that bwe can appreciate what is really important. Of course we are truly fortunate to be rich enough to go paddling...

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    1. You're right, Douglas, it is such an act of simplicity to propel oneself through the water in a kayak...just as our northern peoples have done for thousands of years. Distractions removed, we see more clearly what matters. Warm wishes to you.

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  4. Brilliant and thoughtful words Duncan in this time of uncertainty for us all.

    Love to both of you.

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    1. Thank you Mike, life is indeed so uncertain for so many. We don't ever give up though, we hold onto one another and to the "paddles" that move us forward. I know you know that very well. With warm wishes.

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  5. A wonderful post that I hope many will read. It's words encourage and strengthen us.
    Blessings, Linda

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    1. Thank you, Linda, I'm so glad you found it so. Ultimately, we all share the same "kayak", here on planet earth. As you know from paddling the traditional Salish canoe, when our paddle strokes share the same timing and cadence, the forward motion expresses both simplicity and elegance...and we get to where we want to be, together. Warm wishes from us both.

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