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Monday, May 2, 2016

The Spirituality of Rowing

Boat People

Being on a boat that's moving through the water, it's so clear. Everything falls into place in terms of what's important and what's not.”
James Taylor

I'll be honest with you—I'm not a boat-person. I don't just love everything about boats, as some people do. I've had very few boating experiences in my life that didn't make me sea sick, or sad and sorry for the fish being caught. I'm a real kill-joy, and probably bad luck, when it comes to getting on a sport fishing boat. But I do understand the peace and buoyancy of being in a small boat on the water. Just you and the water and a couple of paddles—no motor, no noise other than birds singing, wind blowing and, occasionally, fish popping up to catch a bug on the surface. It's a calming, pleasant place to be.

I know folks who do their best thinking in a boat on the water. Some who love to blaze along at top speed, feel the exhilaration of excessive wind in the face, and the power of one's ability to move so fast and free. It may be a bit like flying. There is the survival aspect, too, that some find invigorating. When it's just you and a boat and a couple of paddles down in a gorge or a river canyon, you have to pay attention to what you're doing. Losing one of those paddles, or capsizing the boat can get the best of even a good swimmer. If you love the feeling of “you against nature,” if you're a natural-born risk-taker, paddling a kayak down the Ocoee River might be for you. Lots of white water and long drops. You either come out triumphant or drowned. Such a thrill!

Jean-Paul Sartre said, “Only the guy who isn't rowing has time to rock the boat.” True enough, but that guy can also sit and enjoy the view, can dive deep into thought and turn an idea around and around to see it from all angles. That person, who's gliding through the water with someone else steering the boat, well, he's got all the time in the world to figure out what's important and what isn't. I suspect James Taylor had someone else at the helm when things got so clear for him. But then, I'm not a boat person, so what do I know. I prefer to do my deep thinking while sitting on dry land, watching the river flow by.

                                                   In the Spirit,


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