I set out from Titlow today thinking I would try to paddle across to Wollochet, about a 1.3 miles away. At first, the going was easy. I felt confident that I could make it. But after about a half mile, I started to get into some choppy water. I used the Narrows Bridge to my right (north of me) to help gauge how far I was traveling. When I got parallel to the middle of the Narrows Bridge, the water became really choppy and I could tell by watching the trees on the shore ahead of me that the current was pulling me quickly south. At that rate, I would not hit Wollochet but might end up at Fox Island.
Looking back towards where I started, I realized that I was now being swept to Day Island and it was getting close to five O’clock. I remembered one time my son and I had been at Day Island at five O’clock when the tide came in. It was the toughest paddling I’d ever encountered, and I didn’t know if we’d be able to make it back. I knew I was trapped and my trip was not going to end the way I had hoped.
So I decided to head back. I spotted the public beach on Day Island, which is about 30 feet of shoreline–the rest of Day Island is private beaches–and headed towards it. I paddled my hardest but it seemed I was getting nowhere close to the small patch of safety. Eventually, I got out of the current and came to an alternating current (not talking about electricity here) which started pulling me back in the direction I needed to go.
I sat there in my Kayak and rested, thankful for the break. It turned out I didn’t need to stop at the public beach on Day Island. I could just let the current peacefully take me back to where I wanted to go.
As I floated in that home-bound current, I began to reflect on the life lessons I could take away from this experience.
1. The ocean is full of water. If you get in, expect to get wet. GET IN! You’ll never know what’s around the bend until you get there.
2. Sometimes, it’s a lot of work just to stand still. You’re always fighting some sort of current in life. Despite your hardest paddling, it may seem like you’re standing still and the shore you’re trying to reach isn’t getting any closer, but just keep paddling. You may not see any benefit from the work you’re doing, but if you weren’t doing it, forces would be pushing you backwards. Don’t give up. It’s that work you’re doing in that time that will ultimately take you to where you want to be. There will be times to rest. Rest when you can, but paddle like hell when you have to.
3. If you’re going to get somewhere, plan. Look ahead. Determine what the water is doing. Which way is the current headed? How much strength will it take to fight that current? Take the necessary provisions.
4. Be ready at all times to paddle. You never know when you might get into rough waters and strong currents. Be ready to paddle.
5. Be adaptable. Set your sights on a lofty goal and paddle as hard as long and as strong as you can for it. Fight for it. Keep your eyes on it. But if it turns out the weather is too bad and the current is too strong, be happy when you reach a shore, even if it wasn’t the place you intended to be.
6. You cannot know which way you’re headed if you don’t have a marker to gauge your progress. Pick a tree on some shore and see which way you’re moving in relation to it. May I recommend the cross of Jesus?
7. Bring your own water. Even though the ocean is full of water, you can’t drink it. You need fresh water. The world may seem like it has good water, but you have to have fresh, living water from God.
8. Pray. Offer each paddle stroke as a prayer to God. Offer each thing, each action you take as a prayer to God. Let your work be prayer. And prayer will no longer be work.
9. Go off alone sometimes into nature and be with God.
10. If you don’t come back tired and with the taste of salt on your lips, sore arms and a sunburned face, you might have had a nice outing, but not one that is likely to shape or form you, and not likely one you’ll remember very long.