I have 'paddled' a long way in the last week. Last Friday at Sauble Beach, our daughter Becca suggested that we rent paddle boards. The lake, which can become wild and rough, was incredibly tranquil, and even friendly looking. So we got two paddle boards for the day - Becca, Paul and I playing in the morning, and the rest of the family joining in when they arrived in the afternoon. It was awesome, apart from the offshore wind that threatened to take us to Michigan! As I have been reflecting on this week and distance travelled both physically and emotionally, I think there were some lessons on the paddle board that are helpful.
1. Wobbling is part of the deal. A board on water that you stand on, does not stay completely steady, even in relative calm. So, to enjoy the ride, you almost have to expect the slight wobble and adjust your balance accordingly. As you do this, your focus shifts, and the ride becomes more enjoyable...but not less wobbly!
2. Part of the joy of being on the water is the view. Sometimes when we are learning new things, or in new situations, we focus so completely on one or two small pieces, and forget to look up. The views of this shore I have been coming to all the years of my life were spectacular and were views I had never quite seen the same way (we don't have boats here). Today at work, I also looked up - I could see the mountains, and the hanging baskets around campus were spectacular. Remembering to look up is key to this, and I would argue, most journeys.
3. Laughter makes almost everything more fun! For my first try in an attempt to get all 3 of us on 2 boards, Becca rode on the front of mine.... she and I giggled a lot, and the more we laughed, the more the board wobbled, which made us laugh harder... the result was I eventually fell backwards into the water. While we decided we couldn't sustain that way of travelling and actually get anywhere, it sure made the first attempt pretty fun.
4. There are many ways to paddle. The fun of these boards were the combinations and permutations that emerged as we went through the day. Sometimes there were 2 people - you could sit or stand or even kneel and in every instance it worked well. The experience outweighed the technique - and was unique to each person who got on a board.
5. Losing a hat and sunglasses doesn't ruin the experience. This was Paul's first try at paddle boarding and he did well. He headed off on his own, and seemed to get taken out quite far (Becca eventually went out on a board to 'help' or at least get a closer look). When Paul returned he was minus his hat and sunglasses - they went down somewhere out in the lake, just after he went down! And yet, Paul still talked about what he had seen and the fun he had out there...and then went off to replace his dollar store sunglasses 🙂
As I head into this year, I feel pretty good. I have had a wonderful, warm welcome from my community at SMUS, and it is an exciting place to be as students arrive from 28 countries around the world. And, I am also noticing that I am a bit wobbly - working my way back to longer days and intense schedules - remembering what it was I focused on in June before I left.... I am pacing myself and will remember some of the lessons learned on the paddle board a week ago - especially that 'being wobbly is part of the deal'!