Handling the Wind and Waves


Handling the Wind and Waves

"Start living now. Stop saving the good china for that special occasion. Stop withholding your love until that special person materializes. Every day you are alive is a special occasion. Every minute, every breath, is a gift from God." ~ Mary Manin Morrissey

Don_GabeWe have enjoyed a nice hot summer to date. Oh, it has not been without its challenges but I did finally get to take my boys and Katie out on the waters of Lake Muskoka for a couple of canoe trips and learned that I still possess all of the paddling skills drilled into me at Camp Mazinaw. OK. My knees don't bend quite as easily but what the hell. It was so much fun to get back in the boat with a paddle in my hand.

One of the things you learn when canoeing is how to handle the wind and waves. You can in fact use the wind to your advantage and sometimes the waves can be great fun if you time your strokes just right and surf down the crest. Other times it is just damn hard slogging as you struggle to move the craft forward efficiently to reach your destination high and dry.

This disease features few moments of calm water. Most of the time we're paddling against the wind and sometimes it even appears as though we're moving one stroke forward and two strokes back. That's why Katie and I both believe so powerfully in the benefit of mindfulness - achieving the hard-won ability to live for the moment. I look at this photograph and I note my Cheshire cat grin, how Gabe looks so happy (even with the blob of sand on his cheek) and how we're touching each other. In this moment I was completely present. I was completely happy. All thoughts of cancer and mortality were far from my mind.

That's what living in the present moment can do for you.

Another thing it can do it bring you a constant reminder to remember that thoughts are not facts.

I know when I wrote of this in a earlier blog that some readers had a bit of a hard time grasping this notion.

Put most simply it means this - when we allow our thoughts to drive our feelings we surrender too much. If we think for example, I am 60, I haven't paddled for several years, my knees are crap, and what if we tip then I will be unlikely to set out on a little canoe jaunt with my family. If I believe that those thoughts are entirely factual and real I will resign myself to a Barcalounger never to emerge again. The fact is - I am 60, I haven't paddled for years, my knees are crap BUT the motivation remains and my skills remain and my purpose to bring joy to my family and wonder to my sons is powerful and my thoughts in this case are nonsensical and self-defeating. I can CHOOSE not to let those thoughts dictate how I CHOOSE to live in the present moment. We also need to remain powerfully committed to the notion that we shall not die before we die!

This all came to mind when we heard from our friend Catherine.

We were gutted by the news that she was once again undergoing PET, CT, and bone scans and visits with the oncologist and having to anticipate the results of an upcoming biopsy. Our thoughts were immediately negative and fearful. The facts however are that until we learn otherwise she and her wonderful man are keeping hope alive and finding strength in the realization that life is not over 'til it is over.

Yes, the waves are high and the winds powerful.

Yes, the canoe is tippy and feels less secure than when we traverse calm waters.

But we move forward with skill and confidence knowing that whatever comes to be we are loved and love.

We will commit to living in the present moment and offer Catherine, Zsolt and all the many others in this community our continued support.

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Hi Don--I got sooooo behind (obviously) so I'm very tardy with my comment. \r\n\r\nI just love this post--I love the picture of you and Gabe, I love the Mary Manin Morrissey, and I love the advice you give me about how to manage my 50-year-old knees. \r\n\r\nLiving in the moment seems so odd when we think we've got too many worries and problems. Except joy lives in the moment. We must meet her there. :)

RoaringMouse 2.0

Don,\r\n\r\nWhat a beautiful piece. I went back and quickly read your story and what brought you here. Your wife has a wonderful gift in you and her life wouldn't be complete without it. \r\n\r\nI agree with you that the only limits in life are those we place upon ourselves. Yet, if we take away those limits (or walls) then we gain a much deeper breadth and enjoyment of what is being offered.\r\n\r\nKeep canoeing! It sounds like fun!\r\n\r\nThe Roaring Mouse