|Paddling down Hennerton Backwater|
Credit: William Lam
With the Canadian canoes, we split into a boys' boat and girls' boat, leaving my husband and teenage daughter to crew the inflatable. The 90-minute journey upstream was characterised by banter and friendly rivalry, though it quickly became clear that each boat had its own unique culture.
The girls' boat took a more leisurely approach, meandering up the Hennerton Backwater with a finer appreciation of the scenery on offer (yellow buds on the lily pads, weeping willows, riverside mansions, cobalt-blue dragonflies). Even the sighting of a driverless lawn mower caused some excitement. Safe to say, the boys' boat had an entirely different agenda - they were determined to win the 'race', to arrive at the pub before anyone else (which they did).
|The inflatable in its heyday|
The other surprise was the inflatable canoe. Content to occupy the middle ground between meandering and power-paddling on the outward leg, it took the lead in the final strait. The crew was motivated - it has to be said - by a slow puncture along one side of the dingy. "We had to paddle fast or we might have sunk," my daughter observed, summing up the situation quite cogently.
On metaphorical level, I felt all three boats demonstrated equally valid approaches to life. On the one hand, the boys adopted a goal-oriented strategy, apropos of ambitious career types, while the girls demonstrated a more mindful approach, seeing life as a journey rather than a dash from A to B. The inflatable was obliged to take a more reactive course, adapting with aplomb to potential hazard and hardship (sinking/capsizing).
I am not suggesting that we have to choose one particular method to navigate through life - quite the opposite. Challenges come and go: sometimes we're expecting them, other times we have to rise to the occasion. Whatever the case, it often helps to be single-minded and to set goals. That said, it's also important to take a moment to admire the water lilies and the robotic lawn mowers along the way. A little of everything to keep us on an even keel... 😉 Aeneas, who had a rather torrid time of it in the Aeneid, should have paid heed.