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Kayaking Up North

What is the Ideal Lifestyle? Meditating on a Kayak Up North

July 20, 2017 Comments Off on What is the Ideal Lifestyle? Meditating on a Kayak Up North

Living the Ideal Life Up North

I woke up to go kayaking alone. It was 6:30 on a Sunday morning. Then, I woke Chris up. “Honey. I love you. Will you go outside with me in case there’s a bear?” We were Up North after all. 


It’s silly. I know. We are at a friend’s cabin in Ideal, Minnesota. A bear has been spotted in the area pretty regular. And yes, it’s still silly since a bear is likely to be more afraid of me.  

Chris stood on the deck while I went down to the dock. The frisbee we’d been playing with the night before was on the kayak. I tried to throw it up to him. It went directly into weeds, shrubbery, and trees.

“I can see it, but I don’t know if there’s anything poisonous down here.” I don’t even know what poison ivy looks like. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t worry about it. I’ll get it later.”

I launched the kayak onto the water. Chris went back inside. This was a moment I’ve waited years for.

I’ve longed to wake up in a house on a lake, go outside, get on a kayak, and spend a quiet morning on the water. It was 58-degrees with a mostly sunny sky. The air was cool and refreshing in a way that made me want to breathe deep. Sun shone on my face. Water dripped onto my toes and calves from the paddle. Loons called, birds sang, ducks did what ducks do, bobbing their heads now and again.  

When my mind drifted to bigger picture things like what to do with my life, the waves brought me back to the present by changing direction. In the Hatha Yoga class I take, when thoughts come up Bruce says to acknowledge the thought, say “that’s a thought,” and then to let the thought go without any judgment.

Last Saturday, after class, Bruce told me that it’s been great to see how my practice has evolved over the past few years. I thanked him and said, “I finally feel like I’m really starting to get there with my Chaturangas.”

Bruce smiled and said, “Remember, it’s a practice not a destination. There is no arriving.”

I thought about his words as I kayaked. Maybe the problem is focusing too much on the consequence of whatever it is that I think the end-result might or might not be. If I focus on making the most of my life practice each day it might be easier to take risks and to do what needs doing without dread.

What is my ideal life and how do I live it? What should my practice consist of each day?

There are two options that I feel drawn to that are out of reach right now:

  • Live on a lake Up North. Go out on the water (paddleboard, kayak or other). Come back to make breakfast and coffee. Write for a few hours. Make lunch. Do yoga on a deck outside while no one is looking. Write for a few hours. Then make dinner and enjoy time with my honey.
  • Live in Minneapolis in a low-maintenance condo. Audition for shows and commercials. Make friends with other writers and artists. Do commercial work. Shop fashionable and trendy stores. Lunch with friends. Dine at amazing restaurants with my honey.

Would I really want to live either of those lives?

Life in Rochester is a happy combination of them both for the most part. Most of what I want to do, to practice, to be, is available in Rochester. I have communities that I am a part of and plenty of friends and family live nearby. I do get to lunch with friends, dine at amazing restaurants with my honey, and shop fashionable and trendy stores. If I want to kayak, paddleboard, or hike, I can. If I want to audition for plays, I can. 

It’s great to get out and explore Minnesota – the big cities of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, the great outdoors of Up North. Yet, I can live the ideal life in Rochester. The city has everything I need. If I want to experience a greater level of success (whatever that is), the results will come from practicing and doing what fulfills me. Results will not come from a change in scenery.

I paddled back to the dock, pulled the kayak out of the water, and made it back into the cabin without any sign of a bear. I fired up my laptop and wrote. I drank coffee. My day’s practice was off to a pretty darn good start at the cabin on Bass Lake in Ideal, Minnesota.

Wardrobe: Black Roxy Shorts, Black Victoria’s Secret Swim Top, Pink Sweater purchased in Miami on a JAFRA trip.