A few days ago my 16-year-old stepson Jaden and I went out paddle boarding on Lake Como in the Bitterroot Mountains (in Montana, not Italy :). It was a beautiful sunny day. We decided to set our sights on making it to the waterfall at the other end of the lake, where Rock Creek spills in at the head of the lake. It took us about an hour and forty minutes to reach the waterfall and it was pretty smooth sailing the whole way. However, things changed quickly when we turned around and started heading back. The wind picked up and was coming right at us, making it very difficult to paddle. Every stroke was a struggle. We were hardly making any progress at all.
After a few minutes of hard paddling we headed for shore and decided to huff our boards down the hiking trail, which ran alongside the lake. We thought that if the wind settled down we’d hop back on the water but we soon discovered that our paddleboards were like giant wind sails as we headed down the trail so we made the call to deflate them, in the hopes that they’d be easier to manage. Hefting out our terribly awkward, deflated 20-pound boards (we weighed them when we got home) and paddles the 3-miles to the trailhead was the unplanned adventure part of our day.
Though it was super hard going, and the most strenuous thing I’ve done in a long time, we also used the experience as an opportunity to practice keeping our spirits and morale high. Along the difficult trek back we laughed and joked around and used humor to help us through. Sometimes we laughed so hard that we had to stop and readjust our boards! We were sore, sun burnt, thirsty, and exhausted by the time we made it to the parking lot but we could still smile and high-five at our tremendous victory of having accomplished what felt like a great human feat of sheer will and brute force. We made it! Never have I been so incredibly happy to see a parking lot in all my life.
Our unplanned adventure was yet another reminder of how important our mental attitude is when it comes to, well, anything really. It could’ve been really easy to have had an utterly miserable time. To have been complaining and whining and gotten consumed in frustration – to have given up, even. Honestly, I’m not sure how folks without some kind of mindfulness practice do it. Thank goodness for my mindfulness practice! It can turn any sort of life experience into an opportunity to learn, grow, and transform.
The more I practice mindfulness and meditation, the more I see the vast potential it holds for delving ever deeper into the realms of concentration and insight. I’m glad to have had the chance to catch a glimpse of what my capacity entails when faced with such a taxing challenge. Glad to see how my mindfulness practice can shine through and help guide me along the path. And glad to now be stronger for having had this unplanned adventure.