Today, on the water, I observe something of contrast.
With the river so still, so serene, now I am the one with “monkey mind.” (Paddling along with my fellow monkey-minder sitting behind me).
“What’s love?” I pick Rachel’s hairy brain, “And creativity?”
“I would say it’s a divine channeling,” she says, “It’s the total dissolving of the self.”
It’s only moments later, in tuning in to the subtler vibrations around me, I am overcome by the sudden urge to get into the water as quickly as possible.
“All the power to ya,” she says.
On goes the wet suit and in goes the girl.
Now, usually I take to swimming freestyle. For some reason, I watch myself take to a more breast stroke style. Bobbing up and down. Up and down.
As we later connect with the canoes up ahead (I now have purple legs), I learn from the group how I got into the water at the exact same time they spotted a beaver swimming in the same sort of fashion on the other side of the river.
We were like, “is that Jess? Or is that a beaver? Or both?”
“Totally a Jess thing to do,” says Jon, “A seal yesterday. A beaver today.”
But soon, I am the laziest of the sea lions laying on the deck of the hot springs we have just discovered. Now toasty warm, we have just spent the last hour paddling up the tiniest, tucked away little channels to these hidden hot springs. And have just gone for a soak. Drying off in the sun, the slow sounds of running water, feeling as though we are in the middle of nowhere, I observe how the change of setting brings out a more introspective state in everyone. Including the local family we’ve just met at the hot springs.
Their dog is named Una. It means happy in Icelandic (how ironic seeing as we are in a hot tub).
“You’re as welcome here as anyone,” they say to us all, asking us where we are all from. When I say “Canada,” Laura is quick to correct me. “Hey now, some of us are from the UK. Or Japan, even!”
This makes me realize how the last few days have made me forgot completely that we are not just all from the same place (I should likely mention here that we are officially now in the US, having crossed over whilst on the river… no official passport checks or even a sight of an officer as of yet. How cool???)
Later, I find myself on the deck away from the tents and closer to the river. In and out, in and out I watch my breath. Naturally, what follows is the allowing the setting to evoke time for reflection on the chaos that is my life back home in Revelstoke.
Kaoli is sitting next to me writing in her journal. Japanese and Chinese symbols. She reveals a fresh page in her book, looks me in the eyes, then down at the page. She begins to draw.
“This means heart,” continuing to write, “This means lost.”
“The entire symbol means busy.”
(This moment. This moment, right here. Is my stillest moment of my entire Stikine trip… Even more than sliding down the glacier like a seal.)
It was designed in Asia about 4,000 years ago, Kaoli adds about the symbol.
“Even then they knew less was more.”
She continues about how she started to stop to journal at 14-years-old.
“There’s nothing really ever going on, but always a little something,” she says.
It’s a story, of a story, of a story…
Here’s to inner and outer union: “The dissolving of the self.” Especially inside a hot tub, in a place seeming wildly out of bounds.