Paddling Into Silence


September 20, 2020. A kayak can take you places a larger vessel can’t – like into the weeds. Places where noise won’t penetrate – like into the marsh.

Paddling in the silence can help you breathe more deeply. See more clearly. Think more calmly. Get acquainted with your core — muscular and spiritual.

At Camp Many Moons, I have many options to get onto the water: trawler, dingy, rowboat, paddle board, kayak. A richness of choice! I enjoy them all. But there’s something about a kayak. It surrounds you securely but holds you low in the water. It takes you where you want to go but doesn’t make itself the point of the trip. Its paddle speaks gently, compared to the declarative statement of rowboat oars.

I enjoy paddling on rushing rivers too. It stimulates my adrenaline and hones my reaction time. It’s such fun maneuvering through rapids! A little danger is an exhilarating thing. (Not too much, mind you. Just a little.) But I love these quiet paddles into hidden coves, too. They stimulate my senses in a different way. A quieter way.

I’ve met others like me … but not a lot. We’re the type who need contrast in order to feel alive. A time for the thrill and a time to be still. As I enter my 60s, still-time is more important than thrill-time. But I do miss my more exciting alter-ego sometimes. The sky-diving, scuba-diving, cliff-rappelling Mary. The one who skied alone into a snow squall in Antarctica. I still wonder what prompted me to do all those things – and more. A need to confront death? (Rather, the fear of it.) To prove I’m “special?” Both?

That’s the thing about silence, and solitude. They create the space to play with these questions. They’re never fully-answered, of course. But they are fun to play with.

My Dad had a saying. “Sometimes I sit and think, and sometimes I just sit.” He said it in his amusing Finn-glish accent. “Sometimes I zit and tink, and sometimes I juss zit.”

In a kayak, I can do either. What a gift, to have the choice.


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