They say water is the essence of life. I understand that statement. It is for sure a powerful physical and emotional force in my life. I am not sure what it is about water, but whether it is rain on my face or swimming in a cool lake in the summer, it affects my mood, it cleanses my soul, and nourishes my body. Water makes me feel healthy and calm. It is such a simple concept that many times we forget in our quest and stress of making a living.
I have always been attracted to water. When I was growing up on the farm we had a water hole to swim in and we had two creeks to play in. Neither was very big, but both had running water all summer and I spent an inordinate amount of time walking and playing in it. I remember walking with bare feet in the cold spring waters as it rushed over the rocky bottom. I remember cooling off in the hot summer sun. The water was an important part of our entertainment growing up on the farm.
We swam in the water hole on hot summer days, and when I was not playing in the creeks, I was pretending that our house was a large ship on the ocean and the lawn was the water. I pretended to walk on the sidewalks, that in my mind was the deck of the ship and I would jump onto the grass and pretended to swim with dolphins and look for sharks and rays. We did not have video games, but we sure had vivid imaginations.
We also went on picnics and swimming in the local lakes almost every weekend with our cousins. It was the late sixties and early seventies and so the parents were not vigilant, like they are expected to be now. Our parents and uncles and aunts sat at the picnic tables and played cards or talked while the kids all swam in the lake. The older ones watched out for the younger ones and we were expected not to drift into water over our head unless we could swim. I think we all swam well and nobody died even though no one was watching us. It was a different time.
We had a boat when I was a little older on the farm and we learned quickly how to water ski. I got really good at it from having my evil brothers drive the boat and try to dump me off of my skis. They would zig zag, drive fast and then slow to throw me as hard as they could into the water around every turn. Of course when it was my turn to drive, I paid them back big time.
I went to college in Duluth and lived by Lake Superior. I spent a lot of time when not studying looking at the ship wreck files at the Duluth Harbor Museum and walking or driving the north
shore. In 2004 I finally became certified in scuba diving and I have made the ocean a part of many of our trips over the years.
I still love the water. Living on the water and being older has given me a new appreciation for life. Life looks different and feels different when you are on the water. It does not matter how busy a day I have had or how stressed or busy I feel, the minute I am on the water my blood pressure lowers and my stress melts away. If I am in a meeting at work, I sometimes day dream of walking into the water from our beach and I imagine lowering into the water and gently swimming away from the shore. I can feel the cool refreshing water, which is a nice dream compared to the stale air and old coffee smell in the office conference room. I cannot wait to get home every night. We can take a relaxing pontoon ride around the lake or just sit and watch the water. Morning coffee is relaxing and early morning weekend kayaking has become a ritual.
Life looks different from the water. You have time to reflect and to appreciate the simple beauty of our great outdoors. I watch and hear the birds as a glide silently along the lake, and as I do, I appreciate life itself. We have an otter who makes a surprise appearance every once in a while, and the bass literally jump out of the water in front of my kayak. I sometimes have my dog Yogi along, and he has his own life jacket. He seems as caught up in the moment as I do sometimes. He sits and takes it all in, content to sit in front of me, as we glide along the clear lake. Just recently I bought a glass bottom kayak to be able to see the lake world below me as I glide along. I tried it on Lake Michigan looking at the ship wrecks as we would glide over the old sunken wooden boats, some from over 100 years ago. I cannot wait to see what I can find in my lake and it will now add a level of adventure and exploration to my weekend kayaking.
It is not often in our busy lives where we have the luxury of just appreciating life, being grateful for everything we have, our health and our ability to enjoy the beauty around us. Reflecting on how far we have come and how beautiful life is. I sometimes stop paddling and just exist. I am caught in the moment. Appreciating life from the water gives perspective to everything.
It grows appreciation for what we have and for the beauty around, and our problems seem small in comparison. Those problems that seemed large on land become insignificant and very solvable from this on the water perspective. The fast pace of life slows with the waves of the water and our life purpose is realized as not to work ourselves into the ground, but to live each day in appreciation for what we have and for what is really important in life.