It is with a little sadness/nostalgia in my heart that I write this 'Fall' Newsletter. I have been away from Vermont and on Cape Cod for almost two weeks now and I'm beginning to wonder which is more of my home- the mountains or the ocean? I remember in grad school reading an article titled, 'Home is How Many Places' and I might revise that to say 'Home is SO Many Places'. It's been a fantastic time here with many salt and fresh water adventures on my new SUP (stand up paddle board) which has brought me a sense of great freedom and joy!
As I was paddling at sunset yesterday evening, up a tidal creek, against the wind and current- the tide was still going out as I was coming in (poor planning) I thought to myself, 'Isn't this just like life sometimes?' We paddle hard against the current, wind whipping, trying really really hard, all of our muscles engaged, mind racing and perhaps tangled in a salty net of thoughts and stories, only to come to a place where we are turned around in a split second and effortlessly swept back out to the sea.
Suddenly, almost surprisingly, there is only the pale pink sky, an Osprey family chattering loudly (dinner time!!!) and the mind quiets as the wind follows and the current flows behind me and I don't even need to paddle. I just ride the waters and the strong pull of the salty river flowing back out to the ocean, gently using my paddle not to propel me forward, but to steer the board now and again. So much to be learned from a sunset paddle.
As a result of spending two weeks on Cape Cod, I'm realizing that this wild and wind blown place has a lot to teach about accepting what is and being okay with what is showing up in the present moment. The conditions are rarely 'just right'. Even on those days that are (as my father calls them) a 'Perfect 10', I'd take off at sunrise for a paddle only to find gale force winds on the lake, making paddling almost impossible, or bugs so bad at the beach you have to run back to the car! There is a lot to be said for simply opening up to what is, and holding on tight! Well loved buddhist teacher Tara Brach uses the phrase 'This Too' to describe those moments when acceptance and surrender might be our best possible options.
So, the next time things seem frantic and you are rushing up your own muddy creek, your mind swirling like brackish water as the tide shifts, don't forget to let the current turn you, let your mind grow still, and know that some deep unseen force will carry you, IS carrying you, home.
“May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children. Then in these swelling and ebbing currents, these deepening tides moving out, returning, I will sing you as no one ever has, streaming through widening channels into the open sea.” - Rainer Maria Rilke