Keep Paddling Keep Paddling

This morning we headed over the Pali with our outrigger canoes strapped to the top of the car, under heavy clouds and a steady soft rain. We decided to wait out the rain when blue appeared possible and stopped to eat breakfast at Cinnamon’s, a great local place for breakfast and lunch before heading out to the beach.

The beach at Lanikai has been called one of the most beautiful in the world. And it is. It’s white sands and literally turquoise waters. We stood out before we unloaded the boats. Heavy winds kicked up quite a chop but we were there and there was no way, short of a hurricane or something else dangerous or stupid that would have kept us from the water. We paddled out, into the wind. Each stroke barely moved us through the water. I kept remembering a story L. told me of a one-man race with relentless winds (winds I imagined were like this) in which most of the participants had be towed in because no matter how hard you paddled you didn’t move. But this wasn’t quite like the story because we were moving into the wind, albeit slowly, like lead crabs. Sometimes as I cut through one of the larger waves my boat purled, other times the bow slapped the water as we pried our way through the chop. It was difficult to find a rhythm but it was there. Even chaos has a vibration that makes chaos recognizable. I was also aware of the spirit in my belly that loved this ocean no matter time or space. This revelation built with each stroke of the paddle. I kept moving.

Strange, it wasn’t until I turned back to catch waves, that suddenly there was no sound of wind. The noisy shredded blasts that had hammered my senses were absent; it was now calm as unruffled blue, as if I had imagined the struggle. We caught a series of small waves, of adroit and quick pushes and flew, then turned back to do it all again. As I once again labored back, my canoe pushed here and there through choppy waters by capricious, muscled winds I was reminded that often when I have faced such resistance, or have been assaulted by attacks of some manner, I’ve allowed my knowledge of my spirit to diminish and I’d ruined hours or days in despair. As I paddled back through the winds I felt my spirit secure at the center of it all, no matter the turning and pushing of the boat, This is the truth of the matter, I realized, and I kept paddling.

c Joy Harjo August 11, 2004

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