How to Relax: Shifting Plans and Moonlit Canoeing

My return to the house in Charlotte is marked by changes – the second kayak trip I planned my summer around is no longer a go because of human error, and the friend I was supposed to drive to the states with immediately afterwards is too sick to go. With a suddenly open schedule, I fall into a frenzy of possibilities, googling what I could do with my extra time not kayaking. I could stay at the sweet retreat centre I read about in southern BC, or visit friends in Port Alberni, or Nanaimo, or Salt Spring, or Whistler…I feel paralyzed by indecision, by the inability to fit it all in, by frustration that I can’t go on the kayak trip.

And then a voice reminds me I can just chill. Close your computer. Get on your bike. This is all good, as everything in your life is. Remember your all-time favourite verse of scripture?

All is perfect, so perfectly perfect!
Whatever being lives, moves
And breathes on Earth
At every level from atom
To galaxy is absolutely perfect in its place
Precise and choreographed,
Because “That” flows from the Glory of God, The Self, Consciousness, The Source, Awareness, Peace, and Love,
And is therefore Perfect.
When you have surrendered your ego
to “That” you will find true happiness.
Never ever envy the place of
Any other man or woman.

Isa Upanishad 1 (interpreted by Alan Jacobs)

Oh yeah. All good. Maybe I’ll just chill here on this island, take this bonus time to sit and relax…or something. I dunno. Keep biking.

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This is legit a sign I pass. I get it Haida Gwaii. Stop shouting.

Just outside my friend’s cabin, my bike gets a flat tire. I drag it to the beach, taking this as a sign to slow down even more. Heat seeps off my body from the dusty walk, so I peel off sweaty layers and dive into the cool sea, the lapping waves softening my frenetic mind as they fall across my face. IMG_8012

I climb back to the rocks (no barnacles!) and a meditation enters my mind.

Inhale: Sun fills every cell with love and light
Exhale: All worry flows into the rocks
Inhale: Thank you for filling me with love and light
Exhale: Thank you for taking all my worry

Once again, learning to accept things as they come, not pushing to have things go the way I planned or imagined. Open to the flow of easy come, easy go, relaxing into the river of abundance without expectation or a white-knuckled need to control how it looks or when. (Ahhhhh what an easier exhale. SO much pressure taken off!)

My daily mantra this year (no matter how I fight it): I trust your process, and I trust your timing.

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When a dog comes bounding up to my shady spot, I remember that another guy is staying in this cabin while our shared friend is away. He follows his dog onto the beach, bearhugs me and asks about my day, so naturally kind and generous of spirit. Though we only met yesterday, he offers me his bike to get back to town, and invites me to come back later for a campfire with a bunch of other seafaring folk (kayakers mostly).

When I return at night, we eat dinner almost entirely from Haida Gwaii – fresh greens and veggies grown a few hours north, hunted deermeat, smoked salmon, wild picked fruit. By firelight a fisherman tells us a story of surviving a sailboat burning to the ground beneath his feet, and none of us get to bed until the moon is high in the air, so high its reflection is almost off the water.

I sleep late, write for a while, then wander into town. The grandfather I live with just finished fixing the canoe he built the year he retired, and I need another jobless friend to paddle it with me. I spot the fisherman, and we go for an ambling dinner filled with stories of miraculous survival and unexplainable guidance from both our lives. The stars are coming out as we walk back to my house, and the tide has fallen low, revealing invisible islands and hidden coves. The launch point I’d planned is so far from the water that we have to walk the canoe 15 minutes to another beach, laughing as we take our pet canoe out for a moonlit stroll.

We launch gracefully into the still water, a whisper of warm wind on our faces and the moonlight so bright it feels like it’ll burn our skin. For hours we explore the islands, lit as if with flashlights, and as we dip behind them into the shadow spaces, phosphorescence lights up where our paddles leave the water. We try to keep a travelling pace but can’t help stopping, held up by awe, drinking in the magic of the scene around us.

I don’t know if I’ll ever celebrate a full moon in a more perfect way.

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