Holey Experience

The skies are hazy from all the wildfires burning to the southwest of us but Sparks Lake is nonetheless beautiful. Although the water is low this time of year, it does not prevent numerous folks and their kayaks from hitting the water for a day of paddling. Tarn and I are here to test out an inflatable raft we received as a gift. After inflating the boat and pushing off into the shallow lake, we remember why we do not like flat bottomed rafts. They are impossible to steer and wind easily overwhelms the helm.

Less than 100 yards out, as we just begin to find a way to efficiently paddle, we hit a submerged chunk of basalt and sustain a puncture. Bubbles, making odd farting noises, emerge from beneath the raft. Our predicament must be quite entertaining to all the hikers and others afloat in their kayaks. Maybe someone will share a video of our antics trying to get back to shore and dragging the boat back to our truck. Fortunately, we packed for a plan B and decide to travel down the road a bit and hike along a beautiful spring-fed creek toward its headwaters. 

This is a favorite place we discovered more than 30 years ago and it never ceases to amaze. Late season riparian wildflowers grow on little islands of fallen logs that are draped in mosses waving in the current. On one log, positioned to slow the creek’s flow, two American Dippers bob up and down looking for aquatic insects. Grouse whortleberry bushes (small leaf huckleberry) grow thick along the creek banks. They are full of ripe red berries and we gobble them down with childlike delight. The taste and visual beauty of nature overwhelms all but a passing thought about slogging through the mud while dragging an injured raft. 

The mind has a wonderful facility for quickly adapting and changing direction (neuroplasticity). Our natural wisdom flows through this flexibility. If we can observe our reactions to unforeseen events with such an open perspective, we have the possibility of fluidly shifting gears. It is especially important to practice letting go of day to day niggling annoyances so that we can be at ease dealing with more difficult challenges. If we don’t get stuck in our emotions, we become more skillful in responding to life events. We can experience life’s ripples like water rolling off a duck’s back. 

Allowing things to be as they are is a sacred experience. Little snags happen. Holes may sink our plans. But in this moment, as my mind rests in the flowing waters in front of me, I see holey merge into holy—and realize they were never apart.

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