Sketches from Out There #2: My Canoe



Hearing the Silence

One of my favourite things to do on any canoe trip is to seek out some quiet corner of our campsite, and have some introvert time. After a day of paddling, and after camp is set up and dinner done, normally I need to have a few minutes of alone time. If I’m lucky, I’ll be able to find some big rock to sit on overlooking the water, perhaps even facing the sunset.

As I sit there, I think of many things- how the day went, what tomorrow will be like, my fellow paddlers, and so forth. But gradually my mind quiets down and my thoughts rest, and I truly begin to notice my surroundings. But not just notice them with my eyes- really, it’s noticing them with all of my senses and my inner being. The water lapping gently on the rocks, an occasional bird or two flying high overhead, the warmth of the sun-baked rocks on which I sit, the golden rays of the setting sun as they fall on my skin, the blue, then gold, then pink colours of the sky and clouds above as day ends. I might hear the laughter and happy voices of my fellow adventurers, and if they are Mia and Becky, you’ll even hear Becky’s singing voice or Mia’s snooty old lady voice, which never cease to make me smile. As all of me, including the inner Krystina, starts to relax, I realise that the rocks, if big and flat enough, make an excellent place on which to stretch out and rest tired muscles.

But while it is all of these wonderful things that I seek out and are reasons why I go on canoeing trips, the thing that will actually soon make itself known to me is not so much something, but the absence of something. It’s the absence of noise itself. It’s as close to a natural, wholesome silence as anyone can get, I think. It’s silence.

And silence, as they say, is golden. Much has been written by others about how it is a needed and important thing in one’s life to leave behind the electronics and internet, and even the city, and escape. To go beyond the reach of cell signal and wi-fi. And I am here to attest it is absolutely true. If you work in a job with constant noise and hurry and, as I have for the past 3.5 years, with multiple timers and things beeping at you at constant and short intervals throughout the day, silence and quiet are something that you soon might need to add into your life, to choose to seek out and what you may crave. Especially too if you are also on the introverted side of life. It’s not even just to get away from people, sometimes it’s just the noise that you must escape.

I am an introvert, and regardless of that, a person who enjoys one-on-one time with those I love best, and so one reason why canoeing trips are treasured times is because on the one hand, you get to escape from noise and stress and so forth (and the masses at large!), but on the other hand, you can develop great relationships with your fellow campers, and deepen ones already existent, because you are given so many opportunities for quality time. There’s nothing like lying out under the stars at night, pondering anything from the deep perplexities of life to issues of no great importance. You make memories and create inside jokes and secrets. You then go through life sharing those memories and stories with really only those select few that saw the same things as you- for even if you tell those stories and adventures for years to come, those who weren’t there won’t really, fully understand in quite the same way.

And then, if you want to immerse yourself in quiet, you can slip away to some corner of the camp site, and let all of nature make you think and feel as if you were the only person on the earth. Then, sometimes, you can reflect and think deeply about things in ways that you cannot often properly do when you are in the middle of every day life and routine. I have found it handy to keep a journal at these times, largely because over the past years, most of what comes out in those quiet moments is stuff that can become anxiousness- causing and worrisome if left to float around in my head. Writing it down helps. Even in my own relationship with God, I have found those quiet moments to be when I have come in very real contact with my Saviour and friend. Things that up to that moment I had really struggled with were dealt with in those times, and never bothered me the same again. But it’s because I had time to think and re-evaluate, which I would not have gotten had I stayed at home.

And so, whatever you have to do, and however you have to do it, go out and find some quiet. Maybe even go canoeing! You may even find me sitting on a rock enjoying the silence, or trying to figure out how to bottle the scenery on these trips and bring it back so people will understand why I do it.


Photo credit to the amazing Anna Maria, who wrote an article about our last trip, which you can read, here.