My oars slice through water, blending their black color into this water teeming with life below the surface. Big bass fish, a turtle, grasses and trees that have fallen into the water, the dim outline of their trunks, long immersed in the depths below, all briefly catch my eye as I glide slowly over the reservoir, the bright orange of my kayak in stark contrast to the organic material below.
Above me, the sky shows up as a bowl rising above the rolling green Appalachian hills. The tree line arches above the meandering shape of the body of water, not a circle, not an oval, like swimming pools, but tracing the boundaries of the shoreline with curves, hidden alcoves and inlets.
Splashing myself as I paddle, I invite the coolness of the lake water to saturate my body on a 90 plus degree day.
After launching, as I move away from shore, the wind picks up and I struggle to find my flow. My paddle strokes are choppy and I feel my body tensing, the muscles clenching around my teeth and jaw, even though this does nothing for my paddling.
Finally, I find the space where the wind and the current meet. The tip of my kayak directed right towards the incoming wind, and at this point of least resistance, even with the wind coming at me, my oars find a rhythm as my kayak glides, my paddling now rhythmic.
I am in the flow.
Face softening, heart opening as the sun reflects points of light that seem to dance over the water, I grin, laugh and go with the flow, even though I am moving against the wind.
Living my life outside mainstream cultural values that center transactions rather than relations, power and privilege instead of authenticity and integrity, and more, bigger, better, faster, and louder in place of slow growth, sustainability, and equity feels frustrating. I often feel like the frustrated paddler, clenching all the muscles, screaming into the void, falling into despair/panic/fear/anger.
Finding that flow has meant for me, centering relationship over transaction.
In my business this is done by participating in sliding scale contributions for my offerings.
This allows those with abundance to give more and those who are economically challenged to participate without need for explanation or cumbersome forms detailing financial woes.
In my personal life, I spend time cultivating relationships with people who walk in the world with integrity and authenticity, people who are humble, curious, generous of heart, who enjoy snacks, furious dancing and can deep dive into conversation as well as celebrate absurdity.
Growing Food. Slow Food Cooking. Slow Delicious Yoga. Knitting. and of course, Kayaking.
In a fast paced, disposable world, slowing everything down nourishes my central nervous system. It opens my senses to the natural world, to the small moments of wonder and awe that I miss with clenched teeth in perpetual urgency.
Finding the points of least resistance in all these practices, I face the wind of consumption, hierarchy, power over and all the things that can potentially suck the life out of me. Releasing tension, finding my places, spaces and my people, I balance ease and effort and move forward, a smile growing with each stride.