When you are on fast parts of the canoe trip, when the current and flow are rapidly changing and intensifying, when the water is white and noisy, when you are in the zone and concentrating – At these times one is focussed on one’s task and doesnt see there are many more canoeists on the river. We canoeists only really notice each other on the quiet parts. At these times we can meet and recognise each others journeys, provide mutual support and encouragemnt, disclose tactical knowledge. It is a learned group. Experienced. Every individual on a canoe trip faces the fast parts alone and should enjoy the quiet parts in good company.
This is a dangerous river, there are always some who get lost, go down, drown. I have met and lost some very good and wise companions on my canoe trip to date.
Good Company just like the river is ever changing
The ‘distant rumbling’ needs to be heeded always. I’ve said that before. Keep it in ‘half’consious. Be ‘Ready’ to move. Don’t get caught by surprise. Easy to say. The ‘rumbling’ continues and intensifies. I had to get back in the canoe and tighten things up. Current picked up slowly but steadily. Flowing fast for a while, easing now a bit. Another few of these ‘rapid’ coming up over the next while.
I never strayed too far away from the river ….
The rest, the meditaton, the philosophy, the reading, the poetry, the exercise, the travelling and even the boxsets – They are all part of the preparation and have earned their place in the kit bag. Tie it up. Going to be lonely for a while. Just keep it tight!
The next quiet stretch …………………………………………..
Faint rumblings in the distance are par for the course when on a river journey. As long as they are faint there is no need for anxiety. The rumbling could merely be a sign that the current is picking up a bit. Become and stay alert but don’t panic. They do not necessarily mean that more Rapids are approaching. They should be taken for what they are, just signs but not proof. Maybe the water is flowing a bit faster up ahead. Maybe a tributary in feeding in. Maybe there are rocks in the river. Maybe, maybe, maybe ……..
It is good to detect them, to be aware of them. It helps to be prepared for any eventuality and the course of a river is sure to be ever changing. That is the nature of a river and indeed the nature of life.
I haven’t done a posting here for a few months. I suppose I’m just enjoying a long calm stretch of the river and concentrating on regaining strength after a rough ride. I am still of course on the ‘river’ but at a much relaxed current. No treatment in over a year, nothing showing up on the radar. So time to get a bit of fitness back (there are lots of people to thank for help there, great encouragement from them) and of course ‘no nonsense’ walking with a four legged friend who has accompanied me almost the entire journey. We met very early on and he has been such a help to me and those closest to me. (Thanks Shiloh!!). It is also very nice to have time to learn and hone some navigation skills (again lots of skillful people helping me with that).
“I got lost on the river, but I got found
I got lost on the river, but I didn’t drown
I got lost on the river, but I didn’t go down
I got lost on the river but I got found”
Lost on the River #12 – Bob Dylan and Elvis Costello
As I said in a much earlier post, the canoe trip is very lonely but I think when the current does ease and there is time to look around there are people around willing and able to help.
That is a very interesting question. I have recently been told that I am in remission – for the present at least. So strictly speaking I am no longer in the canoe on the river. I didn’t expect to be told those words so am in really unfamiliar territory. I am quite happy to get out of the canoe for a short while but won’t wander too far away just yet. So no I don’t miss the upheavals of a typical canoe trip but am not willing to distance myself from it until I have more certainty. I have spent the last few months on other fruitful and may I say spiritual journeys. To New Zealand, Japan and Amsterdam and would really love to continue with such travels. So, no I don’t miss it at all but am ready to go back there if required.
Well, I have been thinking about that recently. Blogging is a method of communication and expression. Both are good. Both are useful. Certainly for myself I get an energy from managing to collect my thoughts and express them in what for me at least is a coherent and creative manner. I have said in a previous posting that this Canoe Trip is a lonely journey so in a way I may be using this blog to talk with myself or to reach out.
But does any of these actually have any effect on the journey, whether positive or negative? I think it does have a positive effect. There is a certain discipline involved in the act of writing a blog. This discipline needs to be followed in order to collect, organise and then express ones thoughts. In other words it gives you an opportunity to reflect of what is going through your head, make sense or analyse these thoughts and then either to express them or let them go. So in that respect, yes I would say that this blog has a certain therapeutic value.
A canoe trip has many different aspects – the physical, the psychological and the emotional, among them. This particular posting tries to explore the emotional aspect as I have been experiencing it.
When paddling down a river a series of ‘rapids’ can suddenly appear, almost out of nowhere. In the same way on the canoe trip an equivalent series of emotional rapids have been occurring. They are usually fast and frightening and more often than not they occur in groups. For myself in recent weeks I have experienced a set of emotional rapids. The emotions seem to almost ‘rear up’ out of nowhere and are very strong. The ‘out of nowhere’ aspect is interesting. Among the emotions have been, an extreme sadness in one case and a strong sense of fear in another. I often wonder if the emotions have anything to do with my canoe trip. They are pure emotions, sadness without knowing what the cause of the sadness is and a feeling of fear but unaware of exactly what to be afraid of.
Are these emotions caused by being on the canoe trip? Are they the reason why the canoe trip is happening at all? If so, do they need to be explored more fully? Probably yes. Maybe one of the lessons required to be learned on this trip is an understanding of from where these emotions are arising, what is their source? Can the source be found at all?
More to follow on this ……
Well I am specifically thinking of a canoe trip on a river as opposed to a lake or the sea. The nature of a river lends itself well to the nature of a cancer journey.
It can be long or it can be short.
There are parts which will be fast flowing currents and other parts moving more slowly. On medical treatment there are easy days which go quickly and other days when one needs to be patient. On a chemotherapy cycle there are times when it feels like one is going over a waterfall or down a series of rapids eventually to find a quiet spot to rest up.
Whats around the next bend in the river? Another waterfall? An island to rest up on?
Anyway it has been a fairly long journey to this point but still a long way to go. Still a lot to learn
Should a journey with cancer be considered as a fight or a battle? Is that a useful approach to take? I remember thinking about that when this trip commenced and have reflected on it often since.
People would tell me ‘keep fighting it’, or ‘keep up the good fight’ or you can ‘beat it’. I take a lot of encouragement from and really appreciate the concern of my family, friends, colleagues, the medical teams (doctors, nurses, radiologists, pharmacists and all the other disciplines I have encountered) and acquaintances. Everybody has been so good to me.
But I have never really seen my canoe trip as a fight. I have fighters by my side to be sure who are doing battle on my behalf and I’m truly grateful to them. But my role is different. I often consider cancer to be an unwelcome guest, one I would really like to get rid of but a guest none the less. My job is to get this guest to leave or keep him occupied or engaged to allow the fighters to eject him or find other ways to control him and render him harmless.
Lessons from tai chi would suggest that the best way to defeat an opponent is not with aggression. It is much better to use an opponents own energy against himself. I am still trying to figure out how to do this. Still ‘feeling’ the way so to speak.
I have recently started considering the cancer of part of myself. It is made of my cells and my genes. My Oncologist has referred to it recently as my cancer (although I’m sure she doesn’t mean me to take that literally). But if I can accept it as such then surely that would help in devising a strategy to get rid of it or to learn to live with it. Now there is further food for thought ….
Being very interested in tai chi I asked my tai chi master/teacher about my canoe trip. He asked me what am I going to learn. That would help explain WHY I’m on this journey in the first place. I didn’t understand what he meant at the time. I thought long and hard and didn’t find any answer at the time.
I have been on this trip for about 16 or 17 months now and on reflection am beginning to realise that indeed I have learned a few things along the way. They are probably lessons that I should have learned over the course of life anyway. Sometimes lessons need to be learned the hard way.
Among the lessons I have learned are that,
- Slowing down is good – Stop, Look and Listen – Life is not for rushing through.
- Sometimes it is necessary to just say no.
- People are surprising and are not always (if ever) what you think they are.
- I have an Inner Strength I didn’t realise was there (we all do I think).
- Take it day by day.
- Stillness is essential.