Monday, January 17, 2011

Kookaburra Laughs

Just settin’ myself down to a nice cuppa on a blustery Tassie afternoon. Cozy time to contemplate life and appreciate the shelter of friends.

Travel takes one outside of oneself, and offers moments of clarity. Sometimes a good book can do it, too. For me now, perhaps a little of both.

Three Cups of Tea, the tale of Greg Mortenson, climber turned school-builder in Afghanistan and Pakistan, is the most inspirational thing I think I’ve ever read. I’ve been devouring it on the flights, at times moved to tears I try to hide my tears from fellow passengers.

Lyn and Geoff, my hosts, greet me at the airport. Lyn bubbles about an orphanage in Cambodia she visited this year, and her conviction to help not only with her volunteer efforts while she was there, but also by organizing a fund-raising athletic event near Hobart. Her face is alight and her eyes sparkle with excitement.

“Spirit dwells in you, as you.” A line from in-flight movie Eat, Pray, Love. Live true to your heart and as fully as you can, and spirit will use your unique blend of talent and personality to do good things.

What is a Good Thing? Does it have to benefit 1,000 people? Save nature? Further human understanding? It may. Or perhaps it encourages one person. Lyn’s mother sits this week in hospital with her dying partner as he slips into unconsciousness, and beyond. Maybe in the Good Thing one is called to do, one’s own soul finds balance. One more instrument in the grand orchestra plays in harmony for a few bars.

I take Jed the old dog for a walk today. He lost his lifelong buddy recently and has since stayed very close to the humans in his life. He comes to me at the computer often for a reassuring scratch. The air is fresh in the damp bush through which the trail meanders. Kookaburra laughs from his perch in a gum tree.

Kayaking may be the pretext under which I’m here, but I’m convinced that the real reasons are much bigger, and unfathomable to me at the moment. It is my dedication to a passion—a recreational sport—that has brought me to this place. What an unlikely vehicle. I am inexpressibly humbled. I believe that if one follows one’s deep passion with dedication and honesty, it will be a spiritually rewarding journey. The kayak is just a tool. Such a frivolous one, yet somehow it feels elemental to me.

Is the Good Thing the project itself (kayaking lifestyle) or is the greater good the process of learning, submitting, being aware? Anything is possible. No matter what happens it’s ok.

Monsoon rains continue to wash away northern Australia, leaving heartbreaking stories in their wake. Grocery stores post flyers and take relief donations at the checkout counter. The national defense has been mobilized to help. Sometimes it’s hard to see any good in tragedy. Sometimes “No matter what happens it’s ok” sounds ridiculous and haughty.

On the small scale of our lives, strong Tasmanian easterlies (30-40kts) have flattened out the swell and threaten to blow kayakers to kingdom come. Our kayaking plans adjust daily, and yesterday we all stayed home. That means time for Axel and me to begin building a website for Lyn’s Cambodian Children’s Trust Challenge. Somehow, despite our plans, things fall into the places where they belong.