Look out for boat waves
When I was first learning to canoe as an awkward teen, nothing freaked me out more than the sound of an outboard motor.
The lake where I took lessons had tree-lined shores that looked so peaceful, but nearly every house had a dock with a motorboat. If you’ve ever paddled, you know how wobbly canoes can be and at the slightest wave, how easily they can tip the navigator into the drink!
When I was still a novice, all it took was a passing boat’s wake to unsettle my watercraft and my nerve.
Or learn to navigate them
As I became more experienced, I learned I could turn the nose into the swell and ride the waves until they passed. Using my paddle for stability, I grew confident I’d stay safe and dry. Learning teamwork with my fellow paddler meant we could go places and solve things together, no matter what problems arose.
As my skill grew, that distant motor became mere background noise and canoeing more fun.
When will the waves of chaos end?
In our nation and world, we have an unprecedented turbulence—personal, political, and global—coming at us on a daily basis like waves. Each passing swell threatens to tip our stability.
The waves are inevitable, and stopping them impossible. It’s up to you and me to decide if we ride them or let them swamp us. We can persevere if we’re willing to practice new skills.
Rather than getting sideswiped and pulled under, practice staying on top of the waves like a surfer. The president said something egregious again? Keep focusing on what matters—voting access to elect better representatives. The administration is harming another vulnerable group? Put your attention on being a better ally to that community. Feeling sad or stressed out? Don’t fight it, allow yourself to feel it. When we float on the waves, we keep our perspective.
Tools for stability
In a canoe, a paddle propels and provides balance when things feel unstable. What tools do you use for balance? Even while avoiding going out, you might do video yoga, extra pet play time, a gratitude practice, a longer shower… the list of possible stabilizing tools is long.
I’ve been waking early to breathe deeply and relax all my muscles consciously. It helps. Though meditation doesn’t change the world around me, it changes how I react to it. I’m am more useful to the world when I encounter it with a renewed heart.
Another way to regain balance is to rely on your fellow paddlers. Working together creates strength. Once I did a sunrise paddle with a Hawaiian canoe team. The twelve of us working in sync overcame waves I could never have alone. And past the reef? We saw sea turtles on the surface, sunning themselves, and a pod of dolphins riding alongside. I could not have had that breathtaking experience without the help of others. So find your crew. Make time with them whenever you can, however you can. Work together.
Why it matters
This is an uncertain and uneasy time. Sometimes it seems like the bad news won’t stop coming. The more we practice riding the waves, using our paddles, and trusting our crew, the more confident we become at navigating these waters. This is how we progress toward our destination, no matter what we hear coming our way.
Don’t have a crew yet?
Actually, you do. AoCC is a community of caring people who envision a kinder, more respectful, and more equitable nation. Just by reading this post, you become part of that community.
Through June, we’re meeting virtually on the 1st and 3rd Sundays to work on Checklist actions together because, hey, we’re in the same boat!
Join in today’s Sunday Spark session (click for details) — and bring this week’s AoC Checklist!
Thank you. That was so beautifully stated. Keep up the great work!
Thanks, Jody! We will! 🙂
Thank you so very much. This was just what I needed I have been really feeling depressed and lacking hope.
You are not alone in feeling that way. It’s a really normal and human response to tragedy. I’m so glad this brought you some hope — may it continue to grow!
This is beautifully put. As a psychotherapist/APRN, I often use analogies/stories to convey a difficult concept. I try to match it to the person, but this is clear and well expressed! Thank you, I will use this in my practice as well as with my family/friends.
What an honor! Thank you for your healing service and for sharing our work!