I had never heard of the book Paddle-to-the-Sea until a little over a year ago, I think. Sam mentioned it to me, said Lily might be interested in it, as a parallel to last summer’s epic journey. I found it at the library and brought it home. It turned out that I was the one most compelled by the story of the little carved Indian man in his boat, carried by the currents throughout each of the Great Lakes, encountering numerous obstacles and adventures, all the way to the St. Lawrence River and onward to the Atlantic Ocean.
Please put me back in the water. So many of my efforts over the past months and years, maybe my whole life, could be reduced to this. I need to be carried by the current. It’s inexorable, necessary. This stasis, these cultural moorings fore and aft— release me, untie me, let me travel to the source! I heaved that boat as hard as I could, hands on the gunwales, rocking, until the keel finally met the water and I could stop trying so damned hard.
I’ve found myself floating on mysterious, invisible paths, learning to trust that they’ll take me precisely where I need to go. I’m not guiding this little boat. There’s no paddling, in actuality. There’s no control. There’s no safety and no guarantees. There never was. There’s no need to panic, either. There’s wonder. There’s the world, the lived experience, the miracle of immersion.
A week ago it came to me that I very much needed a break from Facebook. I was bumping up against a sort of stasis there, a spiritual blockage. It didn’t have to do with any of my people there. My people, my loves. What was it that pushed me? Do I even understand it yet? How long have I been grappling with this? In any case, I decided, okay, yes, I’ll enter this other current, I’ll cut this mooring for a while. It has been a largely salubrious choice, not driven by my head at all, only my heart. I experienced some expected withdrawal symptoms for a number of days. Will I be forgotten? Will people think I don’t care about them anymore? Will I continue to exist if I don’t proclaim my existence via status updates? Will I feel horribly isolated and disconnected?
Inner Wise Woman said: Let’s go back in the water, love—the unpixelated air, the tangible currents, the sound of voices, the gazing of eyes, the shared food, the immediacy. Even the aloneness, dearest, the unfathomable depths of that—you don’t need to stave it off. Just be. Just let the water work its magic.
In six days Lily and I will journey again. As it turns out, we’re leaving on the same day we left last year, June 6th. To the Lakes, and the heartland.