Just give me a body of water and give me a boat that I can propel under my own steam and I will be all over it.
I used to row several times a week in the early morning, and these were some of my happiest times for many years. The experience was both physical and spiritual for me – my metaphor for living. There is something incredible about rowing when it all comes together. The rowers are in synch, working together as one energy as they pull the craft through the water, ever so smoothly. One can feel the bubbles pass along the underside of the boat as it glides. It was magic.
I was injured in a street robbery in Europe several years ago and, while I thought I had come away pretty much unscathed, I slowly began to suffer increasing injuries that put my rowing to rest. I lost my magic metaphor.
Being a true Canadian, I canoe every year. In fact, I look out on two such vessels in my back yard as I write these words. The canoe is a noble craft, a vehicle of Canada’s exploration and history but, if I am honest, it has been more my transportation and less my inspiration. My husband and I even won a river race in our 90-year-old-cedar-strip canoe this spring. A minor race, but we were darn proud to pass other canoeists 20 years our junior. But, alas, it was not my inspirational metaphor.
Recently, a friend and I rented kayaks, and spent four happy hours exploring Toronto’s islands and harbour. Half way through the journey, the word “metaphor” passed through my mind. Despite involving boats, self propulsion and water, rowing and kayaks are very different experiences. However, this difference began to work for me and my body seemed to like it.
What a great metaphor to remind me of some important elements in my life. Just like life, you don’t so much sit on a kayak as you seem to wear it, as you and boat develop a sense of oneness in the water. If you are tense and rigid, there is a danger of flipping over, but if you relax and let fear go, the balance is just there. I loved the fact that I could see all possibilities-stretched out before me, and so chose where and how fast I wanted to travel. Paddle hard and go fast or paddle gently and just glide.
I came away that day having learned an important lesson. If things change and your metaphor no longer guides nor inspires you, just look around for a new one that fits. It doesn’t matter what it is so long as it speaks to you and so is yours. Symbols, images, and metaphors are all around you. Just take a look and find what touches your heart.