Armorial Bearings granted to Robert Lord alias
Laward of London in 1510; College of Arms MS L10 folio 105b;
copyright of the College of Arms, London. Used by permission.

A Special Place, A Special Time...

Me in my kayak 10.14.01

Sometimes we find in special places a chance to put difficult and painful experiences in a context that lets us move on with our own lives.

October 15th, 2001

This last trip was a little more special, or significant, for me for a reason that has a dark and sad edge to it.

Meghan's very close friend - Rob - who died in a tragic caving accident last spring, was an avid kayaker. He inspired those of us who are much less adventurous, with his warm and friendly way of gentle encouragement, to try things that perhaps we had not thought of trying. I had a passing interest in kayaking, but when he died, I felt my intention to purchase a boat and learn to use it, and then to get out onto Forked Lake in that boat, would be a sort of homage to his spirit.

Rob in sea kayakThere was a picture posted to a website formed after Rob died showing him obviously enjoying his sea kayak (left). In that image, I caught a glimpse of what I hoped to find on the water myself. And I think I did find that yesterday, alternately battling the wind and whitecaps, pushing myself to what I truly believed was beyond my ability to survive, and then relishing in my triumph over the elements and my own doubts and fears. And later, enjoying a placid exploration of shoreline and the mouth of the Raquette River as the winds calmed, I had an opportunity to reflect... and I truly felt that I had the benefit of his inspiration that day, if not his company in spirit.

I place his picture and mine here to remind me of the spiritual connections we can make, and of how life and death are perhaps not so separated as we tend to believe them to be. Even when kayaking alone, I feel I have company, for having known Rob and having known what this sort of experience meant to him. The connections between the living and the not living are often made in experiences in nature.

And as the currently popular song says about how we live our lives, "If you get the choice to sit it out, or dance...... DANCE!!!!"

Yin Yang

There are many representations of the Zen symbol Yin-Yang, which is supposed to express the integration of opposites in Nature. Yet the symbol is almost always shown as a geometric abstract. It seemed that a naturalistic format could be found for the concept, if indeed it applied to Nature. My love of canoeing Adirondack lakes gave me the insight to discover the concept of Yin-Yang in that natural environment.

Zen Meditation on an Adirondack Lake
Philip Lord, Jr.
I know a Lake beside which towers a great Mountain.
The Lake and the Mountain appear to be two separate things, but they are not.

The land of the Mountain extends beneath the Lake and cradles it.
If the Mountain did not hold the Lake in this way, the Lake would drain away and be no more.

The Lake reflects the sky above it, which passes over the Mountain and covers it.
If it were not for the sky, the Mountain would not exist, for it would have no limits and no boundary.

Vapors rise like prayers from the Lake to pass into the sky and become part of it.
Rains fall like blessings from the sky onto the mountain and become part of it.
Springs flow like thoughts from the Mountain and pass into the Lake to become part of it.

Part of each thing is within the other.
The cycle completes itself.

The horizon divides this world of EARTH and WATER.
It places the mountain and sky above and the land and lake below.
It connects the points where each is within the other.

When I push my canoe across the surface of the Lake, I float on the horizon between the lake side and the sky side of the WATER. I float in the boundary of the Yin, and am the point of Yang within it.

When I walk along the paths at the base of the mountain, I tread on the horizon between the Mountain side and the land side of the EARTH. I walk in the boundary of the Yang and am the point of Yin within it.

In each position I am in no place.

In both positions I am in everyplace.


In memoriam: Robert Svensson - 1977-2001 - he loved the outdoors more than most, and inspires us even beyond life.

Tibetan prayer wheel

E-mail me