Conscious Strokes – A mindful, yogic, vegan, kayaking blog
The Mika song “Origin of Love” is a permanent fixture on my phones playlist, it’s a very meaningful song for me. I was listening to it, while relaxing on a transatlantic flight from Dublin. The lyrics made me start thinking about my relationship to love and how it manifests in my life. And thus, this stream of consciousness was born.
From the air I breathe, to the love I need
Only thing I know, you’re the origin of love
It is a part of my DNA driven inheritance that when I do something I generally do it to an obsessive degree. As examples, I can’t just be vegetarian I have to be vegan, I can’t just practice the physical aspects yoga once a week I need/have/am compelled to do it four or five days a week. My obsessive-compulsive behavior inevitably extends to my Greenland kayaking too.
Stress makes one do strange things, instincts take over from sense. We react to rather than mentally process situations and stimulus. In my experience the threat of drowning creates all the necessary stimuli to fill me with stress. When I am upside down, under my kayak, my head under water, and things go wrong, my panic stress response kicks in strongly. I instinctively do anything I can to get my head out of the water so I can breathe.
Running away, avoidance my instinctive behavior, was the easy option I pursued rather than working on protecting and nurturing what I had and should have valued. It took me reaching rock bottom, and being confronted with the possibility of losing what I cherished, to point me down my current path of rehabilitation, to address the real root cause of the turmult, my brain chemistry.
I watched a movie on the flight home from Norway. Only one line stuck with me “we crap on the ones we love”. I don’t know what it takes, or how long, to pull away the crap and find the core of love underneath the pile we build. But I will keep digging, maybe for a lifetime.
I am returning from a trip to the West Coast. Jacquelyn and I took my parents to California as a gift to celebrate their 50th anniversary. We spent time in San Francisco, and then made our way eastwards into Yosemite National Park.
Since first seeing Ansel Adam’s photographs of Half Dome, and the Yosemite falls, visiting this natural wonder of the world has been on my bucket list. I had a desire to experience the wonders of seeing the majesty of the mountains, hewn from granite that millenniums ago had bubbled up from the volcanic fault lines below.
I am reading a book written by Sharon Salzberg, Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness. A focal point of her message is that “Love for others without the foundation of love for ourselves becomes a loss of boundaries, codependency, and a painful and fruitless search for intimacy”. Self-love is at time been challenging for me. Society seems to teach us that self-love is about fueling our inner ego.
I have always wondered why the hell I enjoy rolling my kayaks in the Minnesota winter. It gets f@#$ing cold here, there is no other way of putting it. -18°F, -27°C for the metrically inclined, is the lowest temperature I have paddled in (so far). Wrapped in my tuilik, dry suit, neoprene mittens and layers of woolen long underwear and sweaters my body felt like the Michelin man.
I wish my silent absence was due to a period of reflection, or self-development, about which I could wax lyrically. However, instead, life’s curve ball sent me chasing down a path of lay off, searching and reemployment. This was an unplanned adventure caused by the ever present, unpleasant, human condition of the quest for wealth by people other than myself.