Sunlight hits the tent and soon the heat fills my sleeping bag. It is time to wake. The waters loud whispers reverberate through the door of the tent, always bringing our mind back to its power, its proximity. It is here, and so are we.
We put boats on our shoulder and feel the effects of yesterday on our backs and mind. Our gear, still wet from the day before, slips on effortlessly, stretching over us like the sun over the water.
What are we doing today? Do we need food? Gas?
Questions swirl around camp as the day begins. The question that is always the last to arise... When was the last time I showered?
This shirt is dirty and I only brought two. I am tired of PB and J and I haven't even had one yet. We are on the road, and have been for a little while. Not long enough, because I am not home sick yet. I am not making cursory reasons for a hasty trip home.
I need to check e-mail. I need to write things down. I need to pay bills.
We are on the road on the good part of the trip. We are meeting people, boating new rivers, boating familiar runs. Boating a familiar river is like returning to an old teacher to show them how much you have learned. You are teeming with pride, awaiting its embrace, excited to show it your new moves, your new confidence. It shows you where you have been and what you are now. You change, and with you the river changes too. You see it differently.
We see friends as well. New friends, old friends. But time passes and we near the end of our journey.
Perhaps the most difficult thing is leaving. Leaving what we have found. We say goodbye to everyone. We have moments to remember them by, moments we shared a connection. We are not guaranteed another visit, another paddle down the local run, another chat around the evening fire, another shared meal . We live in those moments as friends, as comrades, and split as such. It keeps us honest, keeps us seeking.
We cannot become attached. To be attached is to suffer, the second noble truth: Dukkha Samudaya. The best we can do is enjoy the moments that we have together on this journey. Perhaps at some time in our life we can settle, we can start to put together routine, put together a life that feels complete.
Not here. Not now. Not while eating a cream cheese bagel out of the back of a truck in the middle of Nevada.
We face impermanence. This life is momentary for us, it can be nothing else for we are moving. There is no tomorrow until it comes. We have gratitude for everyone we meet and the experiences we have now because of this impermanence. We know nothing is guaranteed, so with each waking moment we smile and know we have been blessed to paddle one more stroke, meet one more friend, open our eyes one more time. This is the life we live.
I am grateful to all those that I meet during my travels, thank you for opening your hearts and homes to us.