The Kayaking Microexample

6 Jul

it’s morning. misty. i forgot to put the trash out. i think last night when i was dragging myself to bed i somehow rationalized that trash would not be going out this morning because of the holiday. but now, as i look out the many windows of my new kitchen…i see other people’s cans askew, jostled by the garbage truck.

i dig deep into a box to find coffee. i’m boiling water. kitty is giving me the stinkeye from her perch on the table, peeking just above the computer. wes is snoozing sweetly on the couch after rejecting my attempt at feeding him breakfast of wet cat food mixed with his dog food while we’re between paychecks. he sniffed, snorted, and stalked away as if to say, i’m. no. cat. morning dove is quiet but other birds are picking up the slack. i’m relentlessly questioning myself about what i seem to be writing about this morning…which is making me erase a lot. entire lines, banished. mostly because today, this seems like a journal entry. in my paper journal that no one reads there is a freedom. i don’t have to care what i say in there. here, it’s different. i tend to edit (translate: control) my thoughts. do you care that i am groggy this morning? that i am resorting to coffee instead of tea (even though it cracks me out) because i don’t get paid until friday and will  not have cash to go to the coffee shop to get my new drink of choice, yerba maté? i find myself searching for something substantial to say instead of….saaayyyy, recounting the small satisfaction of using a single chopstick to stir the coffee in the french press so all the grounds have equal opportunity to brew.

speaking of coffee brewing…the coolest thing happened on the 4th. okay, and for the record i hate blogs that start out like this: “my boyfriend and i…”

so i won’t.

“we” woke up on the 4th without a plan. i left him snoozing and tiptoed to the kitchen to make some breakfast. banana pancakes invaded all of my thoughts since i noticed the night before the two nearly black ones lying helplessly on the counter underneath other cooking paraphernalia and detritus that i hadn’t gotten to washing yet. it’s an old house i moved into. no dishwasher. i’m the dishwasher and i’m not reliable like maytag or whoever makes dishwashwers. so these bananas…

i looked up a recipe and realized i didn’t have some of the ingredients. like milk. or butter. ugh! i have to go to the store! i don’t want to goooooo. but wait! recipes are guidelines not commandments. and i switch brain gears from control to experiment. ahhh, that’s better. one of my most satisfying challenges is tweaking recipes with alternate ingredients that play the same part. so, i had a can of coconut milk to replace the milk. and i know that bananas can substitute for eggs or butter because of their moisture. i used extra banana for the butter i didn’t have. mixed all the dry stuff added the wet and let me just saaayyyy…the pancakes were delish. so i made a kind of comfort food, 4th of july extravaganza. banana coconut pancakes with fresh peaches from the yard, scrambled eggs, cold fried chicken from the night before, and reheated fried taters and yams also from the night before. it’s what i imagine real patriots eating for breakfast. personally, i’m a freakin’ die hard fan of gallo pinto in nicaragua and will eat it every day indefinitely…nostalgically in love with the simplicity of beans, corn tortillas, rice, possibly an egg, hot sauce and coffee. holy crap, making myself hungry. okay, but now back to:

over brunch we discussed possibilities for the day: hike? beach? then he suggested kayaking. i’d never been. yes, he said. we’ll both drive, park one car at jenner, rent some kayaks, drive up the river, launch and paddle to the river mouth. my first internal reaction to new things is feeling hesitant. and if i go with it, i’d never try anything. so i talk myself down: this is uncertainty because you’ve never done it and you don’t know what to expect and you think you’ll suck. but that’s old thinking that doesn’t work for you anymore.

there is a ruckus of clearing plates, a little brushing of teeth, swimsuits, hats, sunglasses, water and we are out the door. you follow me, he says. on adventures like these, he’s the man. playing it by ear is his specialty and like crazy magic, all works seamlessly. with eight years of top notch military training…if the world ended we’d be cush and cozy with snacks in a foxhole somewhere in the woods.

we stop to get iced matés, fruit, and a couple michoacana popsicles (the best! he gets strawberry?, i get pepino y chile…cucumber and chiles…intense, delish: salty, spicy, sweet, and refreshing) and drive out to the coast. somewhere along the way i get ahead of him, drive too far, we stop and he repeats himself: you follow me. we backtrack to the coffee shop, cafe aquatica, in jenner (check it out when you get there! fabulous coffee, awesome people…you can’t go wrong). you wanna share a coffee?, he asks. although we’ve given up coffee because we’re high strung and it cracks us out, i still say, yes. turns out, we get inside and the guy i’m with and the guy who owns the coffee shop know each other. they talk plans for the day. and here’s where the really cool thing happens: the owner says, if you guys ever need kayaks i keep two out back for friends to borrow. next thing i know we’re loading up the kayaks and chit chatting about how cool it is that this adventure is unfolding in unexpected and lovely ways.

i know. the cool thing seems small. but i’m getting at a more cumulative cool. about recognizing small coolness over an extended period of time…it restores the potential enjoyment of being alive. i’m getting at a common social (american?) tendency to try and control life and all that happens and the people around you to keep your own comfort level…comfortable. consider this? the control thing is overrated. the kayak microexample is a tidbit of the possibility of  just. letting. go. okay, and let me toss in the disclaimer: of course, some things require measures of control. weeds in the garden bed, insect infestations eating everything you planted, fleas in the carpet or on the dog/cat/you, bills. i’m suggesting letting go. yeah, just a little bit. let the reigns go slightly slack. then a little more. wouldn’t it be cool? if your shoulders would relax enough to come down from around your ears? if your jaw wasn’t clenched without your knowing it? if you were aware of breathing or not breathing? if you could recall the last time you took a deep breath? if your buttcheeks weren’t clenched so tight that each and every dimple is deeply accentuated and not even a sharpened pencil could part them? what if, for a day, you didn’t care what other people were doing? how other people are driving? that someone passes you because, to them, you are going too slow? what if for a day, you tended to yourself and your own behavior and reactions? what if you let life happen, pruning it only when needed, allowing it to grow the rest of the time?

could be the coffee…but no harm done for trying, right?

oh, and kayaking? it didn’t go according to plan. and it was freakin awesome. we started too late and the wind was blowing upstream. so we paddled around in one little section of the river, eating fruit, parking next to each other, floating and using our oars to hold the kayaks side by side, and talking deep intricacies of life and opening to possibility and outcomes.


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