Liquid Medicine for the Soul
By Brick James
You've waited all week for this moment. You've backed-up, logged-off, closed the books and shut down that moneymaker. Your vehicle knows the way as it leaves the freeway of your workaday week making a living to the better way of making a life. You feel the surge of anticipation with your escape from the whirlwind world of parking lots and alarm clocks as you break forth into the beauty and silence of the natural world, your pond place.
Whether for a day or weekend basking in its serenity, casting a line into its bounty or paddling in its pools of reflection, the pond is the environment for which you were made. It's getting back to Eden, a Paradise that whispers joy to your soul.
The first Eden has always been God's masterpiece of creation, designed as a special dwelling place for man. Perfect in form and function, God's first pond place not only provided food and shelter for the body, but it provided beauty and refreshment for the soul. Your Eden, still by the Creator's design, is a place of harmony, beauty and quiet for the soul...
In a day of 24-hour news and instant messaging, it's more important than ever to find a place to slow down, refresh your mind, nourish your spirit and replenish your soul. A place of clear, clean waters is liquid medicine for your soul.
Our society is in dire need of such medicine. In a frantic push for progress, position and pleasure, it is besieged with anxiety, stress and fatigue. The flood of life's daily events keeps us in a continual state of overload. And even if we are fulfilled doing the things of "getting on with life" they are subservient to the greater transcendent needs of the soul. Our heart and soul still keeps an eye out for the life we secretly want.
The prescription for liquid medicine is right out of Henry David Thoreau's 1845 classic American literature book, Walden. There, after spending two years in a tiny cabin beside Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts, Thoreau prescribes a soul balm of simplifying our environment, needs, and ambitions by redefining pleasure and success. For many, the personal craft of perfect design for such a pursuit in and around the pond is the canoe or kayak.
And the prescription is eagerly followed as 27 million Americans took their liquid medicine of water, joy and journey paddling a canoe, kayak or raft at least once (American Canoeing Association, 2003). Though the kayak is presently hyped as the most popular boat of paddle sport choice, it is far outnumbered by the humble canoe as the vessel of momentum into serenity of our country's ponds. The canoe's shape is a perfect design that inspires deeper pilgrimage into the invites of pond and soul.
For the beginner looking for their first dose of medicine, the simple thing to remember is almost any canoe, paddle and personal flotation device (life jacket) will give access to those private pond banks, yet unexplored sloughs, and across-the-way reaches. Whether modern materials, aluminum, classic wood or canvas, new or used, the slender boat about three feet across amidships (widest part in the boat's middle for you bank sitters), with both sides long and tapering to slightly up-curved ends, is the example of simple function.
Unlike open water touring, river or white water canoeing or kayaking, the pond paddler doesn't need to join a health club to enjoy paddle pilgrimages. You don't want to be totally out of shape but in average physical condition. Unless you're chasing that big mouth logger all over the pond, paddle at a pace that brings personal enjoyment within physical limitations.
Each pond paddle is a pilgrimage-a journey deeper into the soul. The simplicity of gliding through water, choosing with each stroke of the paddle the speed and direction of the venture, restoring a sense of autonomy, having control again of life's direction and pace. This is a welcome respite from being at the mercy of everyone else's schedule and demands on your time from the other side of your pond Paradise.
As the paddler stealth fully ventures now-more confidently away from familiar banks and dams, one can't help but reflect a fresh an anew on the character of the pond. Navigate slowly, purposefully, confidently, now adventuresome water glider. Don't overlook obvious, distinct sights, sounds and smells of your pond's personality from fresh, new perspectives.
It's your pond time so spend it well. Liquid medicine is bringing welcome spiritual and psychological healing. Even though you're not consciously aware of it, pond time brings unbelievable physiological benefits as well. Liquid relaxation releases stress, which improves blood flow, enhances immune system response to illness, lowers blood pressure, decreases pain, and alleviates side effects of many necessary drugs, including chemotherapy.
Too soon though, time is up. The light fades, day is done, time to leave the Walden you love. But you don't have to leave the medicine behind. Take vivid images of the trip home to enrich your daily walk.
Pond trips are always infrequent and too short so engage in guided imagery between them. Commit to deliberately picture the place you love the most, the more realistic the better. Add the senses to it. Feel the soft breeze on your face and the sound of the water being sliced by the paddle. Breathe slowly and deeply. Smell autumn leaves floating on water. Guided imagery will not only sustain you till the next pilgrimage but also increases feelings of confidence, control, and personal power while decreasing hopelessness, depression and fear.
Whirlwind days are a reality of life. Bodies need to rest while minds relax. Thoreau got it right. Whether initial or follow-up doses of liquid medicine, paddling a canoe or kayak in a wet spot called a pond is just what the doctor ordered.
Reprinted with permission from Pond Boss Magazine