Hydrotherapy from the Hull

Studying for tests isn’t my favorite pastime.  My theory is: You either know it or you don’t after numerous classroom hours, and if you are not already gifted to understand something, maybe the paper test won’t reflect what you do well intuitively.  Never-the-less, I’m playing along with a program’s requirements to the best of my ability, though I wonder if leaving it between the covers of a book might be its best chance at preservation. There are  greater world issues to consider, but what I choose to do now is find a place to be “alone” to sing or pray…. or not……apart from judging or being judged.

I’ve found consolation in long walks with my dogs, but this evening I’ve chosen to kyack the beautiful waters of the Indialantic and Banana Rivers off the east coast of Florida.

The welcomed arrival of cooler temperatures (as Florida goes) and friendlier ocean breezes made a break from clinics and mandatory bookwork like  indulging in dessert before dinner. (The price later was to field my Mother’s questions about why I didn’t have much of an appetite for dinner.)  The fact is: there’s more to life than eating food or drinking your favorite beverage.   Inhaling fresh air, feeling the gentle rocking of a boat as it glides through the water, seeing fish jump above the surface of a glistening waterway as the sun sets, approaching an inlet to see the playful crest of dolphins rise and roll  in play (seemingly oblivious to my unsuccessful attempts to pull my camera from its waterproof pouch), a bird drying its wings on a canal wall, a large tree with boldly exposed roots tenaciously holding an embankment secure…… all become a different kind of sustenance.  Letting life unfold as it will, without an agenda or expectation is a kind of regeneration and renewal that patience and trust can afford us, while marveling at what’s already found its place among the living.

Floating about are fancy boats with fancy names and rigging, requiring maintenance of which I know little.  I quietly paddle past a yacht coming into dock and see the scurry of the crew as they scramble to secure its sleek and luxurious body.  I observe a man who looks like an energy company pole worker, seated in a small hammock halfway up a mast on a sailboat at a marina I’m gliding past, attending to hardware in need of repair. It’s all too much fuss and worry from my perspective.  A simple seat in a silent boat, dipping and flexing to propel my double bladed oar in a rhythmic eternity symbol, close to my center, is enough for me.

I confess I’m not always a fan of flat-lands, perpetual sunshine, and increasingly popular and congested places where people come to flee winter’s chill and inconveniences, but today I’m thankful to breath the sea air and feel tired from physical exertion, more than from “too much study that wearies the flesh.”  I’m glad to be unhurried for what turns out to be an hour or two,until I choose to glide up alongside a dock and lay my oar down on its uneven surface, and navigate the transition from boat to shore, calling on a sense of balance gained at an early age.  I’m challenged by the effort needed to drain its hull, drag it up a hill, angle it so I can shimmy underneath its upturned body and crouch to position it over my head and shoulders.  I  carry it to the car like a village woman carrying a basket full of fresh fruit on her head, until I slide it onto the padded rack atop its carrier.  I relish the ease and efficiency of stretching straps from one rail to the other before hearing gears ratchet the boat securely in place.  I am calmed by throwing my life jacket with the whistle attached into the back window and smoothing an old towel in the seat for the drive back to a “home base”.  Life is now somehow manageable with complications left to sink in the blue waters of the river, because a few things that cannot be replicated by people, fit between the covers of a book, or made part of a one hour therapy session, have been witnessed.

My “hydrotherapy” happens in the hull of a simple boat without a motor or blades to endanger wildlife.  Something about being surrounded by these inter coastal waters has soothed what no person can fix.  I’ve concluded:  Maybe some things are better remembered as mystery, like dolphin at play who are completely in the moment and fully present; because pictures cannot always convey the depth or breadth or height of what uplifts and sustains us when we are weary or answers are hard to find.

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