To be alive is to totally and openly participate in the simplicity and elegance of here and now. ~Donald Altman
I glide though the silence of early morning fog rising from the river, my kayak paddle slicing through the glassy water, propelling me forward into the next moment, and the next, and the next. I am not always good about doing this, but sometimes in the time just after dawn as the sun starts to claim ownership of the sky, I am able to be in each moment, not thinking about the last one, not anticipating the next one. Just present, one paddle slice or step or breath at a time. Simple elegance, on paddle slice at a time.
We spent this past week about 500 miles from home, in a little yellow cottage outside of Manistique, Michigan. Perched on the southern shore of the state’s upper peninsula and the northern shore of Lake Michigan, my husband’s family has roots deep in the sandy shores and waters and lore of the small lakeside town and its surrounding forests. It’s a place of simplicity if you choose it, and an elegance of a different sort than is usually conjured from the term. I suppose you could say it’s a place where they have always gone to be present. To simplify the pace of the days and let the slow energy of a summer vacation take the reins.
My days during the week started with running down to Indian lake, the shallow, crystal clear source of the Manistique River that meanders at a leisurely pace for a few miles before flowing into Lake Michigan. After running through the tranquil energy of the quiet summer neighborhoods as the earth shook the sleep from her eyes, I donned a bathing suit and jumped in the river or into a kayak to baptize myself into a new day.
Every morning was ripe with the type of silence that can only be found in the hour just after dawn. I met two foxes playing chase in the dark woods down the road, paddled alongside countless ducks, heard the ancient call of the Sandhill crane and stared into the eyes of a deer who looked up from taking a drink. I saw moss and sand and huge white pines and tiny scub brush co existing peacefully and finding harmony with each other’s differences. I felt the pulse of the wildness that still runs deep through that land, and it reminded me that there is indeed a simple elegance just waiting to be noticed around most every bend.
Everyone else was usually awake and moving by the time I was done with my little morning routine, and the day’s pace picked up a bit as we went off to see the sights, but those mornings kept me grounded and conscious of the fact that simplicity and elegance are a choice, and a choice that I need to remember I have every single day. Even when vacation is over and the ordinary events of the days start to melt into each other. Even then. And it’s good inspiration to try to keep getting up early to run. And paddle before work. (note to self: take own advice on “how to make morning better” to set self up for success..)
How can you find elegance in ordinary moments this week?