Sunday, 10 August 2014

Lessons in Beaver Hunting

I was out on the water this weekend chasing… well… nothing in particular.
I find, sometimes, the greatest outcomes occur when I simply go without expectation of any particular result. That doesn’t mean I haven’t a goal of sorts. Kayaking this weekend was to relax and reconnect with my inner homo-sapien… whatever the hell that is.

As I’m wandering up the canal pictured to the right, I saw a beaver house. There was no need for a dam here. The water was deep, which was good news for me as I could avoid crawling over a barrier of stick, mud and beaver poop.
Some days I just want to avoid the poop.
As I was returning out of the canal, I passed the grey stick and mud house again. I wondered if the beavers were home. I thought of knocking. The door was bit out of reach being under water, though. Suddenly I saw movement ahead out of the corner of my eye and there he was; Beaver. I wasn’t sure if he/ she was a Mrs. or Mr. Since he wasn’t wearing a skirt or high heeled shoes, I went with Mr for my own convenience.
He ducked under water.
With nowhere in particular to go and no-one in particular to see and no particular place to be, I decided to wait to see if he would surface. I think I should have packed a lunch or a meditation tape. Man those little dudes can hold their breath.
I was drifting closer to the stick house when he popped back to the surface. He made several trips back and forth in front of his abode as if protecting it, then finally slipping into the house after I snapped several photos. Deciding not to bother the fella any longer, I continued on my exploration of other waterways.
I was reminded of patience and perseverance after I left the beaver to his normal life.
I wondered how much patience we have in our current societal state. Everything is expected to be instant; instant cereals, instant coffee, we get frustrated in traffic jams, we expect people we know do things for us immediately, we expect instant returns of our text messages, our bosses expect instant results, our computers have to be fast, we carry our phones with us, we expect our kids to instantly be adults... We expect ourselves to be perfect human beings over night. Everything has become a blistering paced nightmare.
Patience is slowing down to a speed our brains, bodies and souls can keep up with.
At the same time, perseverance is part of patience. Beavers don’t build a dam over night. (Well, sometimes they do and we’ll ignore the “eager beavers”.) It takes time for them to build a house, construct a damn, wait for the new pond to fill, wait for the flora and fauna to show up and make a neighbourhood where they can raise their family. The goal they are working toward is specific and the task monumental.
Through all of this, they complete their task over time completely altering the landscape and providing homes for others one stick at a time.
I sometimes think if we could show a little more patience, we would all be healthier. Oh, sure, patience with others is important. What I am talking about is patience with ourselves. Small degrees of course alteration completely change the ending destination. And once that degree of variation has occurred, sticking with it one step at a time will completely change our lives… even if it’s two steps forward and one step back on a slippery, muddy slope on the way out of a bubbling, self-created cesspool.
Sometimes we have to fall off a cliff before we know we've taken the wrong road. The way out is the same way as in... small, patient, persevering steps. It took me years to get there and I expect it to resolve itself overnight? Really? 
Any destination can be reached given enough time. With everyone expecting instant “whatever”, I suspect they miss the best part of the journey… the satisfaction of attaining a goal and knowing the rocks and mountains they had to scrabble over. By slowing down, we might not see everything from a distant, bird’s eye view. Instead we see things up close where we can connect. I know for myself, when i experience the journey, I am much more satisfied when I reach the destination.
Well, me and the beavers.