If you cut through the rambling and rhetoric, nearly every religion, new-age spiritual guru, or latest self-help best-seller touts the same message: stop dwelling on the past and the future and be in the present. Truly, everyone agrees, fully experiencing every moment is the way to fulfillment and health. The trouble is, while it sounds dead easy, being in the present is incredibly difficult. Ah yes here I am in the present moment and….. I wonder what’s for lunch. You see? Being here right now is difficult. Unless of course, you get in a boat onto a fast-flowing river.
Over New Year I quite literally found myself steering a croc (small two-person inflatable) down the mighty Orange River. I felt strong and alert and there was not a thought in my mind -just my body’s pressure on the paddle so that the boat would enter the wave train dead straight. “Paddle hard,” I yelled above the roar of water to my partner in the front of the boat because unless you’re travelling faster than the river, you cannot steer the boat. Pretty soon we were soaking wet and whooping wild whoops as the boat bounced over a series of standing waves. When last did I shout out aloud to the sparkling universe in sheer exhilaration?
The sense of immediacy continued in the evenings as under the flashes of lightening and a dark sky we collected firewood to cook supper, dug holes for our ablutions, lugged water from the river and put up a shelter using our boats and a tarpaulin. Most of the 19 people on the trip were total strangers and since it rained every night we slept under our shelter like sardines, on thin mats on the sand and such sweet solid sleeps do not visit me in my own queen-size bed at home.
The books and the gurus, the priests and the yogis are all right: after three days of this kind of living in the moment we were all glowing and in good spirits. Be here right now – or if that’s too hard, get yourself on a river.