I'd love to say that the following is a normal excerpt from my life, but it is more like a holiday from a life filled with computers and emails like an other modern, western life. I probably have more flexibility in my day than most, and it is undoubtedly more spacious than office-life, or working the mines in Uganda, but I can get myself as buried in its demands as anyone.
While most folk fly off to the sun for some respite, I chose to seek my spaciousness a little closer to home - in this case Wales - paddling down the river Wye to be exact.
And instead of endless margaritas, stimulating excursions, and mild pizza hangovers, I opt for time with family in a setting conducive to conversation, and whole-body relaxation.
Aside from the gentle adrenaline rushes of mini rapids, there is little to disturb the solemn, peaceful pace of the river. Watching the swans, goosanders, and gorgeous mandarin ducks, all festooned with mating colours, and the way too cute & fluffy results of such festivities...
There is the general, gentle exertion of paddling. Of keeping us moving through this gorgeous landscape of deep, still spots of river.
And I guess it takes its toll, especially if you're fifteen.
So resting on the banks after a couple of hours is a welcome break.
We find firewood on the beaches, and soon a fire is crackling below our kettle, and the human banter begins.
A spot of lunch, and then it's back on the water for another couple of hours, being rocked and entertained by the occasional trout leaping from the surface, or the fleeting blue streak of a kingfisher.
My whole body slows to the pace of the river, my thoughts are definitely less intrusive in my experience, and while the internet could have been useful to identify that weird bird back there, I honestly miss it like a bad case of fleas.
I am always drawn towards a sense of ancestry through these primitive activities. I guess that is why I am so drawn to do them. The pace of life before the last century's madness.
The ease of solving simple problems, with little more than one's hands and mind.
The actual impact of the wind and the weather on our day.
The fire making, the setting up camp on the river's edge, and the jokes, and stories shared.
The living on the ground. Dirty fingernails, and uncombed hair.
This is all despite the somewhat packaged foods we have with us to eat. Food that I would usually not chose. But choices are as limited as they are simple here.
There are salads and fruit, but its bulky and perishable, so I've eaten more bread, more chorizo, and more beans in this 4 days than I have in the past year. And it is a good reminder of how our ancestors had to make such compromises in order to adventure, to trail-blaze and to simply survive in the new environments they were having to adapt to.
I spent some time relating this journey to the talks I give on the retreat, talking about the optimum diet, and the effects of the modern version, where most folk are eating these things day in, day out. I remember how that feels. I empathise.
I feel the impact on my energy, my vibrance, and my bowel, but I have no problem with it; no judgment. Just more learning. More reinforcement of what I am all about :
- Listening to the results.
- Understanding myself.
- Choosing again.
But the general sense of relaxation I feel, the scents in my nostrils, the colours in my vision, and the reality of my embodiment in this moment... No question that it is worth it.
Just look at those reflections of the trees on the water, the clouds in that unbroken sunset, the sequence of the dawn chorus, the colours in the fire, the sweetness of this unforgettable time spent with my daughter, and the uplifting sense of space in my body...
Thanks Nick. Here's a shameless plug for what you do - http://windingrivercanoe.co.uk
I think he's done now for this season, but I know he'll be back on the water in the summer break.
If you can't wait until then to get some nature connection - for all its health-bringing benefits, then here's something Nikki has been setting up for a couple of years - women only though, I'm afraid - Wild Women's Hearth - June 25th to 30th
I've said many times that there is nothing more rejuvenating than time in nature. Even if it is just a short walk in the woods, it provides on opportunity to listen...
Listen to a celebration that has been going on for 4 billion years, and whatever stories you've got going on, its heard them all before.
And the idea that its all going to be okay suddenly becomes a possibility...