I remember many years ago when I was a teenage camp counselor at a YMCA camp up in Reading, MI. After a long hot summer filled with young excited campers, our camp director arranged for us to take a week long canoe trip down the Manistee River in upper Michigan.
It was a great end to the summer. They drove us way upstream and we put in about six days traveling time from where we ended up. We had a good time camping and canoeing, and I learned a lot about both.
It wasn’t that big a stream, certainly not a big river, but there was definitely some current. Since we wanted to go downstream, it was no problem. Just relax and drift while the current pulled us along.
Sure, we had to do a course-correction now and then; a little dipping of the paddle here and there to keep in the middle of the stream. But basically, we paddled just enough to keep things on track.
Now when we had to get to the shore to make a portage around a log jam of downed trees and branches, we had to paddle a little bit more to get over there. Plus it took some work hoisting those canoes up overhead and carrying our gear through the woods on the obviously well-used portage trails. That was pretty hot and sweaty.
Even at the end of the day, though, while it took a bit of work setting up our campsite, it quickly became routine, and we could get it done pretty quickly with little trouble. All and all, it was a fairly easy proposition without much difficulty.
But as we got further and further downstream, the current picked up a little, so we traveled faster, with even less effort, except if we wanted to get over to the shore. Once, it got pretty exciting when we went through this small section of falls and rocks.
As we came around a bend, we realized that we were passing our landing site for the night. Tat was interesting. Even though we’d had advance warning that it would take a bit of work to get back over there, it still took us by surprise.
Now we had to paddle back upstream, against the current, which took a lot more work. At times, we seemed almost to be standing still. But little by little, we worked our way back over to the opposite shore, upstream. By the time we got there, we were toast. But the camping that night was awesome. We’d earned it.
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying: “You’re either moving forward or moving backward, but you’re never really just standing still.” Life often pulls us along, but we don’t always like where we’re going. We end up reacting to things as they come along, making course corrections as we have to.
When things go wrong, and they will, it takes a lot more out of you. When you need to dramatically change your direction, you better get paddling.
It’s a lot harder losing weight than maintaining, and it’s much harder gaining strength than losing it. Both take lots of time and work, but you can get there. You’ve just got to be willing to buck the stream!
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