It’s still. So still. Soundless, but for the paddle dipping into the lake, the water dripping from it as I swing it forward again. I notice, too, how the smooth lake gently laps at the hull. Then, the loons call to each other, just once, reminding me I am not quite utterly alone.
In the middle of the lake, I lay the paddle against the gunwale. Let the canoe come to rest. The fishing line drifts down, down, down… then goes slack. The loons call again. No, just one.
I drift. Listen to the sound of my own breathing. The songbirds in the far-off forests. I watch the clouds, watch as the ice vapour barely shifts. On my face, the sun feels hot, penetrating, so I think of the cool lake, the swim I will have after returning to the cabin.
And I think, this is serenity. So I sit there, in serenity, for a little while. Let my thoughts go, until my mind is as quiet as this valley, smooth as the lake.
The lone loon calls again. I pick up the paddle, begin the rhythmic Zen of propelling a canoe gently across a glass smooth lake. The loon whooshes past, seeking its mate, I suppose. I watch its reflection as it wings its way down the lake. Adjust my course to follow it, as my mind returns to its thoughtful, tinkering ways.
This is not serenity, it says to me. This is just a place. A mountain lake, pretty as a postcard, for sure, but this is just a moment in time spent in a sacred place. It is beautiful, and calm, and you’re alone with your thoughts. It is a place where serenity comes easily. It is a place where it is easy to be alone and set your thoughts aside. Your concerns, your worries, your fears and your angers, these are the wispy clouds you can blow away with a few even breaths leaving only the mental clarity that is as simple and beautiful as the blue sky above.
That is serenity. And it’s a good thing, too. Because tomorrow you will pack up and leave this beautiful lake, return to the city with its noise, and its people, and the work you do and all the stresses, fears, worries and angers that go with it. The lake will seem so far away.
But you can take the serenity with you. Serenity is only ever a few deep breaths away. Just breathe in, then let me go as you breathe out. Let go this attachment to me, your mind. Let go your thoughts. Let go your attachments to the way things should or should not be. Let go the idea that in order to have serenity, you must be in a serene place.
Serenity always travels with you. You just have to remember to unpack it from time to time.
I take my mind’s suggestion, right away. Breathe deeply with the paddle strokes, and settle into my own serenity, leaving my mind in my wake.
British Columbia, Canada, 2014
The Pic and a Word Challenge is a weekly creativity prompt offered Sunday mornings.
Each week I provide a photograph of mine along with a single word. The challenge? Use the pic and/or word as points of inspiration to create something — a photograph, a painting, prose, poetry, fiction, non-fiction, longread or just a few words. You are welcome to use these two elements (photograph and word) literally, thematically or metaphorically. If you create both images and words, all the better.
- You may use any title you like.
- Your response can be words and/or an image
- You may use my image in your post, or any image you have created.
- Place the challenge’s Pic (If you use it for inspiration) and Word prominently in your post
- Mention that you are responding to the Pic and a Word Challenge
- Add a link to this post in your response
To help us find your response, you can also:
- Add a comment on this post to announce your response
- Apply the tag “Pic and a Word Challenge” to your post
Have a serene week!
The word for last week’s Pic and a Word Challenge #8 was Desert, along with this photograph of Monument Valley Navajo Park.
Three great responses this week, plus a late arrival. Thanks everyone!: