The river still flows, it rolls and tumbles on its dance. We pause; focus with intended heart beats for what we are set to do. Our stroke rate is of little concern, the edge and angle of our boat foolish to think about. All that we can know that is fact, that is known to be the truth, is the simple breath, our inhale, our exhale. For some it calms, that slow sucking of air to the lungs, the pleasant push as we let it escape our lungs. Physically it slows the heart, but it does more. The breath, this single life point, does not distract – it does the opposite, shedding the illusion of set isolated movements. The breath like the flow is a constant. No stop, no start.
In the calm on these simple moments, in the calm of the simple breath – that is all that matters, all that will ever be of concern.
Our thoughts and mental picture often, so often, become torn. Our sound track, lifes memorable audio, plays on the worn grooves and broken stylus record player. Our own memory is not that which we think. Tricks of the mind happen daily. Are we ever truly centred, in the moment. We think of a multitude of objects and distractions, driving we often forget how we got from A to B. We take no time. Happy to be fooled by our our mind, by the passing minutes. We flick from social media to TV, from the text alert to the mp3 player. We dont even pause to eat. A snack at the wheel, a drive thru too many.
The same is true of our river experiences. We name and shame the river. We name and shame our experience. Rapids like ‘Graveyard’, Tombstones’, ‘Devils punch bowl’ all force the river to be an impression before we even commit to a line. Names always shame our experience. Stout, Full On and such like. Just think, for a moment, how does this matter to you? When we paddle, content to be engrossed with each stroke, with the technique, with all these distractions we are tainting the language of our own connection. We offend, thinking of this ‘all’- but our own place on the river. Deserves more. This a real standard for this impression, we focus on that which is not of truth.
Our truth is to be calm, to focus on the breath, to breathe alone. This will open the door to further exploration. Without hinderance. Motor techniques, the paddle strokes, the optical and physical effects of choosing how to edge, speed, dynamic feel etc. All these will come to pass in the moment of the breath. The in and out. We are with the river, we are not to be distracted from it. The river is fluid, it rolls and falls, tumbles and grows. It is both an infant and an adult all at once. In its movement it is all – past, present and future. It is more than we can give it credit for.
Many, too many, go to this haven for less that it deserves. The river doesnt care about our missed stroke, it doesnt laugh and ridicule us. We have no place to be concerned with this. All that is of concern is the way we, each moment, experience the flow.
Coaches and instruction books cannot teach this. The personal moment – thats it. We need look no further than our own self reliance. Human skill, faulted, will cope. We can walk without thinking about the technique. Paddling, with the right level of attendance – the right skill set, can also do the same. We need to embrace our skill sets, but we need to understand how they interconnect with our ‘oneness’ – our breath. To learn skills, set in place without connection holistically is futile. It will only ever alienate us from the reason we strive to be in the flow.
ALL IMAGES A.BUTLER