Saturday, September 01, 2007

Twenty Years

There's a Zen story about an eager student who asked his teacher how long it would take for him to reach enlightenment if he meditated every day. The teacher answered, "ten years". A bit disappointed by this answer, the student asked how long it would take if he doubled his efforts. "Twenty years" the teacher replied.

I remembered this story when I got out of my bright-orange kayak. (Yes, I have a Zen parable for every occasion.)

An hour earlier I had sat down in the kayak. I was, as always, anxious to overpower the kayak and the nearly-still stream. I paddled really hard but found myself going round and around and generously splashing water on myself and my fellow kayakers. (It's a good thing most of us don't row to work. Imagine the water rage.) Blaming my utter lack of control on my obviously-defective paddle, I switched grips to find the most optimal position so I could conserve energy and glide elegantly. Instead, I did more circles and crashed into the thorny bushes every two minutes.

Twenty minutes later, I got tired of trying. Lack of fitness can be such a good thing. I put down my paddle, sat back and watched dragonflies dancing merrily on the sparkling surface of the water.

Birds chirped (one of them shrieked), the unruly grass growing on the bank swayed, kayakers paddled and without interference from the paddle, I floated downstream, absolutely straight, just like I had wanted to.

11 comments:

Space Bar said...

I floated downstream, absolutely straight, just like I had wanted to.

Ah...in that case, can I assume that when you left, you did not carry the kayak with you on your head?

:D

km said...

LOL....though I think that would have been faster. But then, no satori :)

Tabula Rasa said...

are you going to tell us why the bird shrieked?

if a bird shrieks in a forest is km going downstream again?

Anonymous said...

Reminded me of my one and only attempt at skiing. SOmebody suggested "switch off your brain", "really?" I asked him, "it seems pretty switched off to me."

km said...

LMAO@the shrieking bird

Anonymous: LOL :)

Big Wave said...

all of which starts to make kayaking/ rafting lessons and gear seem like a giant conspiracy to make you (me) feel stupid. at a thousand bucks a go. gah.

MockTurtle said...

KM = Kayaking Monk?

km said...

big wave: kayaking needs lessons?

mt: That's a great name for a kungfu movie. Except it will feature no kungfu, only kayaking.

MockTurtle said...

Right on - Deliverance meets Enter the Dragon

Ph said...

KM: This zen-ness is keeping you from posting?

MT: Stop ignoring me and say hello.

MockTurtle said...

Namaskara madam