“When the surface is wavy, dive deeper for quieter waters.”
Flashback fifteen years...
“Paddle” we yelled as the dozen tubes all tied together drifted like an island towards the rocky shore of the Wisconsin River. As we soaked up the warm sun, snacked on sandwiches and chips, drank lots of “strong” lemonade and laughed, our island of inner tubes floated down the river while occasionally having a tendency to veer towards the right bank. To prevent our island from running aground, we paddled. Reaching over the backside of our tubes and with forearms flying, we somehow managed to keep our island floating. Some of us paddled more than others. Some of us lounged more than others. Some of us drank more than others. At the end of our July afternoon and while pulling the tubes out of the river, I noticed something was missing. “Hey! Where is your wedding ring?” The river got a new treasure that day. Perhaps it was an omen.
Fast forward fifteen years…
Yesterday, I found myself on a different section of the Wisconsin River tubing with my family with help from Wisconsin River Outings. It was a different experience this time. A different husband. One child. Only four tubes ( 3+1 cooler tube). No spiked lemonade. No wedding rings. It was a perfect Wisconsin afternoon in July. No humidity and no mosquitos. Just lots of peace and quiet. The river was calm with just enough current to keep us moving. Besides two kayakers and a fisherman, we saw no other human life on the river during our three plus hour float. We did however see a variety of birds including two young bald eagles perched high up in a tree. It was the large eagle nest that caught our eye. Splashes from jumping fish and songs from the birds were the only sounds we heard. Lots of peace and quiet.
Although we were moving with the current, we were still. We were in the moment. We were simply just being. Just being still. In today's fast paced society where worth is measured by productivity and multitasking, stillness can be hard to find. For some, stillness is underappreciated. For others, stillness can be a scary place, as it forces moments of self reflection whether invited or not. Running is easy. Stopping to pause is often much harder.
When opening ourselves up to moments of stillness, we quiet our minds and our bodies. We are drawn to the present. Stillness generates peace, sparks creativity, enables gratitude and is a physical and mental balancing factor to a hectic lifestyle.
While out on the river, my family found much needed stillness. As we journey through the country, although we move, we also need moments of quiet. We all do. The stillness we experienced today allowed us to notice the beauty around us, feel the warm sunshine, reflect on my father-in-law’s recent death, ponder our own personal journey and simply enjoy being together. We weren’t rushing. We weren’t planning. We weren’t reading maps or texting. We were simply being. And it felt good.
Road Rule #25: Stillness... Find it. Feel it. Appreciate it.
Where will you find your moment of stillness today? Perhaps floating down the Wisconsin River? Just remember, don’t wear your wedding ring.