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Something From Everything  

Going 'just' beyond

We made our maiden voyage last Sunday.

It was a perfect day for kayaking. Slightly overcast, not nearly as showy as the clear, blue skies and radiant sun of the days preceding.

It was noticeably cooler, with endless ribbons of pale clouds weaving across the sky. Through the clouds we could still see the sun and feel it’s warmth upon us, but it was muted.

My partner and I loaded the kayaks onto the roof racks, our old car creaking under the weight as we stood on the wheels and blindly passed the ratcheting straps back and forth.

Once loaded, we headed to Wood Lake, to a quiet pebble beach and our favourite kayak launching point.

Along the way, we passed an elderly lady, partially hunched over, carrying plastic plates to a backyard table covered by a bright-yellow plastic tablecloth. Table settings were spread around the makeshift dining table, and bright-pink-and-purple tulips sat in a tall vase in the middle.

Noticing our curious stares, she smiled and waved.

Farther down the road, we passed an old, steepled Catholic church with a line of cars curled around the building. At the front of the line stood a priest and nun, dressed in their full robes, with blue, disposable gloves on their hands, and their faces covered by a plastic face shield.

The priest was blessing and handing out the communion to participants in their cars, extending the bread and wine (or grape juice and wafers for all I know...) on a round silver tray that had been attached to a long, flat stick.

It might have looked ridiculous to some. It certainly would have in any year before 2020. I didn’t find it ridiculous at all. Only strange, and brave, and beautiful.

My eyes began to water, and I looked away, embarrassed at being so unexpectedly overcome. Then, turning toward the passenger seat, I watched my love wipe a finger along her own eye. We drove forward in silence.

We arrived at the beach and unloaded our kayaks. Wood and Kalamalka lakes are connected by a narrow channel,, the small stones clearly visible beneath our boats.

The channel is far too shallow for any, but the simplest fishing boats and kayaks. The spring run off will surely raise it i, and soon enough there will be a cue of boats waiting for their turn through the channel, which is only wide enough for one-way traffic at the slowest of speeds.

However, on this most precious of days, there are no boats upon the water.

We navigate through tall reeds, giving way easily as we glide among them. In time, these shallow coastal waters will be filled with lilies. We travel to the spot where we usually turn around, and I look up to find my partner moving away from the reeds and shore, a good 50 feet in front of me. Heading for who knows where.

I catch up and we continue along the shore. There is no development here, only nature and endless No Trespassing signs. It makes us want to trespass. Makes us wish we had a blanket and some food for an impromptu, illegal picnic. We continue on, “just a little further.”

We come across an eagle, perched at the top of a solitary pine, higher than all others. We take out our cell phones to attempt to capture her and fail miserably.

Our eyes, though not nearly as powerful or clear as hers, do a much better job of focusing on her, obscuring all other objects in our field of view that are not her, then our cameras do.

This is a wonder, even as we disappointingly return our phones to our pockets.

We come across a small cave covered in sprayed graffiti. Painted across the rocks are names of couples paired together or encased in hearts, graduation classes of numerous years, illegible words partially covered over, and a beautiful rendition of a raven and bear face to face, and a large smiley face painted over the front of them.

With each new sight and landmark, we discuss turning back. I’ve known for a while now where my wife is leading me. It’s long been her goal to kayak to Z-cliffs, and they have never been closer.

In the silent rhythm of watching the coastline and endlessly cutting through the water, I’ve been thinking about David Whyte’s poem,Just beyond yourself. On the surface, it’s a simple poem, about living beyond your comforts and familiarities, about extending your boundaries.

"Just beyond yourself.
It’s where you need to be.

Half a step into self-forgetting
and the rest restored by what you’ll meet.”

On that day, and most days since, I’ve been thinking about the word “just,” how crucial it is. Just beyond yourself. I think of how my sly wife knew where we were going all along, but kept heading to the next landmark. How she invites me to expand myself by degrees. That the only decision before us is the next, right movement beyond.

Now, the next landmark is Z-cliffs. It is hidden from sight as we approach it, guarded by Canadian geese camouflaged among the grey rock face, hidden and spread among the crevices.

It is a strange sight and one I’ve never encountered before, these iconic guardians, stationed and keeping watch. As we round the bend in the rock, the cliffs extend as high as we can crane our necks, the slightest rays of sun peaking through the openings at the very top.

The cameras come out again, and again fail to capture the immensity of it all. How small we feel in the face of it. But they are still glorious pictures.

At Z-cliffs, we finally turn around. We might have stretched the use of the word, just. We were on the water for 3 1/2 hours, and paddled more than 15 kilometres. Later, my sore right wrist would turn out to be tendonitis that would require a few weeks of anti-inflammatories, compression wraps and rest before returning to normal.

It’s a price I gladly pay for a day like that.

It occurs to me that this is what all of us are doing right now, or invited into. Going just beyond ourselves.

  • That’s what elderly woman was doing, setting tulips on a rickety backyard table.
  • That’s what the priest and nun were doing, extending sacraments on makeshift trays.
  • What each participant was doing, lining up and taking communion in their car.
  • It’s what we have been doing, with varying degrees of success or acknowledgement, for just over a year now.

We are beckoned further than ever before. The just is strained and difficult so often. We have been flexible, adaptable, exhausted, stretched and strained. All of it. But we are also expanded.

We are all going just beyond ourselves, and we will have to continue to do so. To go beyond where we have been before.

It is the only way forward for each and every one of us, and we will all be the greater for it.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

 

Matthew Rigby is a grateful husband to one, and father to three. He works as a registered nurse in emergency care, and has spent more than 15 years in healthcare. 

Matt, an avid reader and podcast enthusiast, is committed to great questions and honest discovery.

You can find his podcast "Something From Everything" wherever you listen, and find all his writing at www.somethingfromeverything.com.

You can contact Matthew at [email protected]



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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