How The Shoreline Stretched Out My Self-Worth.
Recently, a friend wrote to me describing her fear of being ordinary. “How can I feel extraordinary in a world so big? I feel like everything is moving too fast or the world is too daunting for me.” For a while, I had no answer.
It came to me a few months ago, when I was guiding a canoe trip through Algonquin Park. It was the day after our first food drop. For two days, we stopped and settled down into a small beach campsite. For a short time, our world consisted of a long stretch of sand, two tents, and a seemingly endless supply of fresh food.
Rest days make the girls turn wild. Usually, on canoe trip, we are defined by our movements. Our bodies and souls work together as one as we glide over lakes of glass in green canoes, fueled by a hunger for open water and Spanish rice.
But on rest days, we stop moving, we slow down. Our restless bodies lie out on the blue tarp, soak up the sun, and count freckles on collarbones. Occupied only by card games and blue pens, the traces of civility and normalcy are tossed aside in the sand.
Sun-kissed and sleepy, we devour watermelon like wolves, howl at the sun and wipe the juice from our chins.
In our boredom, we sketch suns and flowers on shoulder blades and bellybuttons.
We look like strange unknown creatures from a world away, or maybe a time past. As we slow down, our growth becomes apparent. Our eyes filled with lake water and eyelashes bleached by the sun are all-knowing. Our bodies bear bruises that spell out illegible stories, marks of secret successes and failures.
We have seen so much, paddled so far, licked the bottom of lily pads that turned us into goddesses. In our quiet, sandy world, we are extraordinary.
We feast on peaches and chocolate, flip canoes and build fires so tall it looks like flames could lick the sky. I wonder if we could stay like this, all soft lines and tanned skin, lost together in our own little world.
So there was my answer. Slow down for a little. Realize that yes, the world is vast and daunting, but that’s not a problem. Pull the horizons in close and create a world of your own, a place that smells like pine and tastes like Werthers. Create a world where finishing a portage or learning to swim can be the biggest accomplishment.
Revel at the strength you built, the muscles you earned, and the skills you developed. Find your place, settle in, dig your toes in the sand, and count the stars with your fingers.
Begin to feel extraordinary.
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Asst. Ed: Andie Britton-Foster / Ed: Catherine Monkman