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  • michelle m. davis

Paddling Our Canoe

Being human is unique. We each have a spirit – which is eternal – in a physical body with an expiration date. We come to Earth to learn various lessons, discovering our own humanity in the process. For many, this is an opportunity for evolution and exploration as they forge along, realizing their life’s purpose. Some are blessed with loving partners, children, friends, and coworkers, while others lack these support systems, requiring them to become self-sufficient. And, not everyone is lucky enough to recognize their path. Instead, some struggle, fall, and are often challenged to rebound after overwhelmingly difficult encounters.

No doubt life can be easier when others are present, holding space for us, especially during difficult times. Yet, no matter how many loving people we have by our side, each one of us must paddle his or her own canoe. No one can do that for us.

What does this mean to paddle your canoe?

Paddling our canoe is symbolic for how we navigate the ins and outs of life. It depicts the ways we move throughout our daily activities – our actions, behaviors, thoughts, and motivations – paralleling how we would utilize an oar to propel us forward in a river filled with unforeseen life experiences. Regardless of the number of people around us, the comforts we possess, or the amounts in our bank accounts, we are each an individual vessel, a unique soul – separate, yet connected to the rest of humanity. However, while there is a common thread that binds us all together, we cannot depend on others to live our lives. That is ours to own.

While paddling our canoe, we come across various situations, relationships, thoughts, and fears that challenge us to become better humans. It is our response to these encounters that teach us those lessons so crucial for our development. That’s what Earth School is all about. It’s a place to engage in different opportunities through which we can expand ourselves. Trying new things may seem uncomfortable at first, but it is when we embrace uncertainty that we discover our unique gifts. Doing so affords us the ability to offer compassion to a complete stranger, the strength to stand up for a cause we believe in, or perhaps the courage to have those difficult conversations.

As we paddle down the extremely unsettling waters of 2020, know that we each grasp our own oar, bravely using this tool to cut through the choppy waves as we do our best to move forward. This journey is not easy. There may be logs in our way and other unforeseen dangers ahead. Often the current comes at us, and instead of propelling us ahead, we may drift toward the riverbank or even fall behind, losing ground. And, no doubt we will encounter eddies that spin us off course and perhaps even out of control. We may drop an oar in the water, our boat may fill with water, or we might even capsize.

Yet, instead of judging and criticizing ourselves as we detour off of our path, let’s celebrate our humanness – forgive our errors and mishaps then looks for ways to become better. This is exactly what happens when we learn to push ourselves off the riverbank, reroute our canoes in the correct direction, and right our tipped boat so that we can climb back in and carry on. Yet, as uncertain and difficult as this trip may be, we possess the necessary tools to navigate this journey.

As long as we remember to steady ourselves, hold on to our truth, and maintain focus and presence, we will summon the necessary strength to paddle our own canoe. Perhaps those we love will be paddling similar boats next to ours, as they, too, struggle to navigate this lifetime. And if the current becomes so tumultuous that our boat capsizes, they will be there, ready with a lifeline to assist us, as we will for them. After all, humans help one another. But ultimately, we must be the ones to command our canoe to the ultimate shore, forging ahead on the path we are here to travel.


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