stroke and glide pic

Photo credit: Beth Brust

The new and unused Thermo-rest mattress is the first thing to go.

Next is the tent, still in its original package, waiting to spring open and pop up with the promise of an unused condom. The power bars, quick-dry undies. I toss them over my shoulder and out of sight. What I can’t unpack is my disappointment. My realization that the Stendhal quote I so love to overuse – “The eye/I cannot see itself,” really reflects upon me.

I will be fifty-five come January.

My body is turning fifty-five. Me? I’m moving at a slower pace. We are so out of synch.

Six months ago, I happened upon an International group of women travel writers setting out to conquer – not the landscape – but our self-imposed limitations and fears. We were going to carry all our baggage, physical and emotional, and hike 80 miles of Newfoundland’s East Coast Trail.

Next to go is the extra pair of hiking pants.

A health issue was the euphemism I was using to drop off the trail part of the trip. What had I been thinking training three days a week and walking eight kilometers in the heat of the day with twelve kilos strapped to my tender uterus?

The Doc said, “You’re not using it anymore, get rid of it.” I looked at him, not a bad looking man but well into his 50s, and I thought, “Bet you aren’t using your parts like you used to either. What do you say we just get rid of yours?” Doc also said, I could go to Canada, but backpacking was out of the question.

Three days later, I arrived in Newfoundland. I tossed my suitcase and joined the throngs of city folk walking towards the river for the annual Regatta tournament.

Every summer in Newfoundland is the National Regatta race. During the year, five days a week, these rowers are up at 5:00 in the morning out on the waterfront trying to get into the rhythm of stroke and glide. They dip their oars deep into the water, pull and then let the boat glide.

Stroke and glide.

Stroke and glide.

These last few years have been more stroke and less glide. Watching the rowers, their faces tight with the exertion of each stroke, I think of life and how it’s all about learning to anticipate and relax into the glide. Sure the glide lasts only a few seconds. Sure within a moment you’re back with the paddle in the water, the freezing spray on your face until your body stretches back again–but before you can sink in, the glide has past and you’re up and moving.

Don’t need the extra sports bra, the thermal walking socks, the dehydrated packets of food (no regrets there). Yes, am disappointed, but I am determined to find my glide – five days in Newfoundland on my own, no pack, no decent internet connection, no cell phone coverage – me and the city and experiences waiting to happen – move aside—cause here comes the glide.


Challenging Myself To Lighten My Load was last modified: by

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