Water Wisdom is presented by the author with the hope that it might resonate in some small way with something deep within the reader; helping each to reconnect with an inner voice, their guide that waits in plain view, but is often hidden by the noise of the world. This guide is in reality one’s true Self. In deep silence our higher mind touches the Soul and in that instant all is revealed. That is why we all need to retire from time to time from the world and in quiet contemplation replenish ourselves. This journey when understood is a great joy. It may seem long but it is not a journey of distance. It is a journey of mental adjustment. It is a journey of realization.
This is the quest that our hero, Hall, finds himself on in Water Wisdom. This is the quest, which, all of us uniquely find ourselves on today.
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Read an Excerpt
A Journey of Discovery
By Robert H. Wellington
Balboa PressCopyright © 2016 Robert H. Wellington
All rights reserved.
In the Beginning
It wasn't that Hall didn't know the answers; he just seemed to have misplaced them. In truth, at this point in his life he wasn't really sure what he had forgotten. He just knew that something deep inside whispered that something was missing and needed to be found.
Hall had just turned twenty-two. A university graduate, his life was full of promise. He had always been a thoughtful person. Even as a kid playing football, he would help the other team's players up after a play, a characteristic that caused the blood pressure of more than one overly competitive peewee-league coach to rise dangerously. He was the first to help his own team's players up as well, which lowered the coach's diastolic pressure and endeared him to teammates and parents alike on both sides of the ball. He was popular but not in an unhealthy sort of way. Rather, he had several loyal friends — men and women — who knew they could count on him, as he knew he could count on them.
In quiet moments he thought, What is the problem? So much of my life is going in the right direction. I should get on with it — find a meaningful and fulfilling job, get married to a good woman, raise children, and experience life as a family man, neighbor, and involved citizen. Hall had not overlooked these goals; in fact, they seemed quite appealing. But he couldn't help but feel that he needed to stretch through and beyond a successful and prosperous worldly life to something even more fulfilling, although he wondered to himself what that might be.
Happiest in natural settings, Hall was constantly outside. He loved to go on long bike rides and to hike, canoe, and camp. He especially liked white-water kayaking. There is a hint of danger in the sport, which always seems appealing to a young man still in the bulletproof stage of life. But mostly he liked maneuvering through and with the moving water. Surfing a standing wave, pirouetting after an ender, upstream maneuvers, ferrying, eddy turns, and peeling out — it was all a dance with the water. Fight the current, and you lose. Dance with the water, and you experience something beyond the adrenaline rush.
A little shot of adrenaline was fun too, but Hall wasn't an adrenaline junkie. Upside down in a kayak in a low-oxygen environment is a situation to be avoided or quickly corrected. Fortunately, he had a reliable combat roll and was usually able to throw on a high or low brace to avoid capsizing altogether.
The Eskimo roll is a counterintuitive paddling stroke taken while upside down underwater that rights the canoe or kayak back on top of the water, as it was designed. Hall liked the C-to-C technique in which his body moved from a C position on one side to a C position on the opposite side while executing the stroke. It is one thing to execute the roll in a pool or calm lake, but rolling up while in an aggressive white-water situation was much more challenging. This is why it is referred to as a combat roll, a maneuver that can only be mastered in a dynamic white-water environment.
The Eskimo roll is a heart-pounding part of the dance too. Being upside down in a rushing river with the water's disorienting roar in your ears and your face kissing the deck, as they say, to avoid unseen rocks as you prepare to roll to an upright position, is a surreal experience, providing one with a different perspective on life and certainly a strong appreciation for the simple act of breathing.
Dancing with water in a fast-moving river requires a sharp mind, alertness, and an intuitive sense of nature's rhythm. Much is learned with hours of practice, but those who are really accomplished have a deeper connection with the river and seem to move across and through its features effortlessly and poetically.
Hall loved the water and often reflected on his relationship to it and its effect on him. Water is the life giver. We came from water. Our bodies are primarily comprised of water. It takes little logic to appreciate our relationship to water, but to truly understand it takes a deeper knowing. Whether it is the power of a rushing torrent in flood stage or the quiet serenity of a mountain lake in early morning, water is a metaphor for life in many ways, and as such, draws us to it to share its energy, passion, and peace. We consume it for life. We feel the joy of immersing ourselves in a cool lake or just standing in the rain on a hot summer afternoon. Where there is water, there can be great peace and great passion.
Hall had heard his father talk of these things when he was a young boy and had developed a deep bond with nature. Many days of his youth were spent with his family canoeing through beautiful areas of Canada or hiking mountain and canyon trails. He loved to listen to the wind blowing through the trees and to smell the piney woods. Now in the city, he missed these things. Perhaps this was the emptiness he was feeling. It wasn't that he was unhappy — far from it. He was quite happy and upbeat most of the time. It was just that now that he was forced to think seriously about a career and the mundane daily obligation of providing for his clothing, shelter, and food, he felt a stirring deep within that needed to be identified and incorporated into whatever decision he might make.
Hall had been blessed with a loving family. His mother was quite religious but balanced in her faith. She fully subscribed to the fundamental requirements of a religious life but had a deeper understanding of its secrets and looked past the dogma to the essence, incorporating it into her daily activities. She did her best to teach her children, and more of her teachings were absorbed than her children or she was aware. As they grew older and overcame their rebellious youthful nature, she was rewarded with the surprise of hearing her teachings come back to her from the mouths of her own children.
Hall's dad maneuvered through life balanced by a deep spiritual understanding as well. He called it his compass, but he wasn't particularly religious. Although he could articulate religious points of view, he preferred seeing the truth behind everyday things and especially was at home in nature. He emphasized the spiritual over the religious and spent each early morning meditating and praying. He tried to bring his spiritual life into everything he did but not in a proselytizing way. Rather, he tried to see all of life's experiences with gratitude and forgiveness.
He often said, "If you can see God's hand in everything, you are truly blessed. Such blessing leads to a life of joy whether successful by earthly measurements or not."
He felt that success was in the effort, not in the result. If one did his or her best, the result would take care of itself. This philosophy applied to every walk of life. One need not hole up in a Himalayan cave to find God. Spirit presents opportunities to know It constantly throughout each day, but the true discovery is found within. Hall's dad often said, "The world is healed one encounter at a time. Make each one count. Not only will your life be blessed, but you will also leave a beautiful trail for others to follow."
Hall often thought about these things, but how does one focus only on the action and remain unattached from the result? His dad reassured him by admitting that he was still working on the same conundrum, and although he knew it to be correct, meeting payrolls at his small business and paying for shelter, food, and his children's education sure made results look important. Nevertheless, when he focused on doing his best, the results usually took care of themselves in ways that sometimes surprised and amazed him.CHAPTER 2
What Was That?
It was Christmas Eve, and there was an inexplicable joy in the air. No one questioned the pervading happiness, for after all, it was Christmas, but in the back of Hall's mind, he wondered why this year seemed especially joyful. Maybe it was the unusually good rendition of Handel's "Messiah," which Hall's dad set on repeat throughout the day. The hallelujah chorus was especially uplifting. Or maybe it was the full moon. Hall had read that certain Eastern religions gave particular significance to the phases of the moon, and clearly a full moon on the night of Christ's birth must have some influence. But in general, no one gave the joyousness of the day much thought except to connect with it and be filled with its inspiration.
They all enjoyed a wonderful evening meal, and then the family departed to church for the midnight service. The joy of the day carried over to the church service, but during communion Hall felt compelled to pray intensely, giving thanks for the love he felt and had shared during the day. He recited the Lord's Prayer, and when he said, "On earth as it is in heaven," he saw the heavens open up and the multitude of heavenly host descend over the altar, cascading down and all around, blessing and paying homage to all participating.
Was he dreaming? This could not be the result of an overly creative imagination. Hall's eyes were wide open, although he wasn't really looking through his eyes. He was actually seeing the heavens open. The most interesting feeling came over him. It was like he had seen this before. There was a familiarity about it. He didn't remember when, but he had definitely experienced this before.
He heard himself whisper, "There you are. I have missed you."
As his family finished praying and sat back down in the pew, Hall's focus turned to them for a moment. When he looked back, his vision was gone. But there was no doubt in his mind that he had seen something special. He felt a great weight of doubt lift from his psyche, and in its place was indescribable joy.
Upon arriving back at home, everyone went to bed, but Hall felt compelled to pray and meditate. He prayed for several hours and fell into a deep contemplative state. Without warning his body started to shake, from his toes to his head. It was as if every cell in his body had been plugged into an electric outlet. He heard a great wind and felt tremendous pressure in the center of his forehead between his eyebrows from the inside. He opened his eyes, but all was black. He could see nothing, but he heard voices and beautiful song. The pressure inside his head increased, and he felt as if he were being pulled out of his body through the middle of his forehead. Eyes wide open, he saw only black. He had no control over his body. The thought crossed his mind that he might be dying. Never had he felt such indescribable power. He pulled back, thinking he had too much work left in this life to end it here. He groaned with the effort, and far away he heard the sound of his own voice. This provided a point of reference to the world, and he felt his consciousness reenter his body. His sight returned, and suddenly he was back.
Coming to his senses, he sat there with a feeling of great amazement but also regret, for he felt like he had been given a special gift that he may not have completely experienced due to his own fear.
But what was this gift? In fact, what had happened? He had no answers — only a feeling of peace that comes from a deep, inexplicable knowing that there is something more that intimately touches all of us.
Hall thought long and hard about these experiences and realized he needed to retreat from the world for a few weeks to absorb what had happened. Camping trips had always cleared his head in the past. A solo canoe trip might be exactly what he needed. The more he thought about it, the more enthusiastic he became, and he immediately began to plan.CHAPTER 3
The Canoe Trip
Hall had been paddling for several hours through the stillness of early morning in Canada's Quetico National Park, one of the premier canoeing parks in Ontario. A cool fog was beginning to lift, revealing a mother duck and her brood scurrying from thicket to thicket along the shore. A Canadian jay could be heard in the distance singing, "My sweet Canada, Canada, Canada; you're so beautiful, beautiful, beautiful." The jay, along with the occasional splash of a fish jumping or the rustling of small animals along the shore, was all that could be heard between the almost-hypnotic, steady splash and pull of the paddle blade through the water.
Hall was a strong man, and each stroke powerfully propelled his craft forward. The whirlpools he created with each pull of the paddle were still swirling several seconds after. Occasionally Hall would stop and just listen. How quiet it became. In such stillness each small noise boomed its presence. He almost felt bad about breaking the calm when he resumed paddling.
It was about 7:00 a.m., and as the sun lifted into the sky, it began to energize the stillness. A slight breeze began to blow, and small ripples appeared where a few minutes earlier there had been utter, mirror like stillness. It is interesting how the sun warms up the atmosphere, causing the ocean of air we call home to begin its daily restlessness.
It looks like I'll have a headwind today, Hall thought to himself. He took a quick glance upward and said, "Thank you."
When Hall was younger, he had dreaded headwinds. On family canoe trips, it seemed like there was always a headwind. He remembered a conversation he'd had with his dad several years earlier.
"Oh no, not another headwind — I hate headwinds. Don't you ever get tired of headwinds, Dad?" he used to ask.
His dad would say, "Sure, when I was your age, but then it dawned on me that it all depended on whether you were in a hurry or not. As soon as I decided that I came to these waters each year to participate in the experience they offered and to recharge that something special inside, I began to look forward to any and everything nature was generous enough to share with me. Each moment is precious, Hall. Don't miss one of them."
These words resonated with Hall. From that day forward, he had a different perspective. The wind began to blow harder, and he thought how good it felt on his face. "Just God saying hello," his dad used to say. Funny how such a small adjustment to one's perspective can have such a powerful effect on how he or she experiences life. Life's challenges become treasures; trials become opportunities; moving through the trials becomes growth; and with growth comes increased understanding and the resultant joy of connecting.
It is difficult to handle a one-man canoe in high winds. The bow is constantly being blown around like a weather vane. As the canoe is blown, its side is exposed to the growing waves. This was not Hall's first headwind, however, and he was a skilled paddler.
The trick to paddling in high winds and the resultant high waves was to time one's stroke and roll one's hips, allowing the waves to easily pass beneath the canoe while always keeping maximum clearance between the water and the canoe's gunnels. If one angles the boat slightly, he or she can paddle constantly on one side without a corrective J or pry stroke. In this way, the force of the wind and paddle are balanced, resulting in a constant direction. Again, it's just a dance, but one must remember to always let Mother Nature lead.
Letting Mother Nature lead, hmmm, Hall thought to himself. "Surrender — that's it, surrender to nature, surrender to the spirit. Isn't this the secret to turning trials into treasures?" On he paddled, musing over his latest revelation. Funny how he had been living his life just this way but never realized the simple formula for what he was doing.
He looked out across the lake and saw a small island. Looks like a good place to camp, he thought to himself. About a mile away, I should be there in fifteen to twenty minutes, camping around noon. A little lunch, a refreshing swim, and then some fishing.
This lake was known for its walleye, the best eating fish in all of the north woods — perhaps the world — and he was going to catch one for dinner.
It was a beautiful island, with a nice fireplace designed with cooking in mind, well located, protected from the wind, and constructed with a large reflector rock. We will be baking tonight, he thought. It also had a flat tent site complete with a moss cushion, compliments of a previous visitor, and most importantly a swimming rock jutting well out into the lake. It had just the right elevation from which one could dive and several ledges on the side from which to climb out.
Excerpted from Water Wisdom by Robert H. Wellington. Copyright © 2016 Robert H. Wellington. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
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