The Ten Rules of the
September 26, 2002 3:03 PM
17:25 Jesse Simpson Library; Masset, BC :: TUE 24 SEP 02
The Ten Rules of the Canoe
The Ten Rules of the Canoe were developed by the Quileute canoe contingent
for a Northwest Experiential Education Conference in 1990.
- Every stroke we take is one less we have to make.
Keep going! Even against the most relentless wind
or retrograde tide, somehow a canoe moves forward. This mystery can
only be explained by the fact that each pull forward is real movement
and not delusion.
- There is to be no abuse of self or others.
Respect and trust cannot exist in anger. It has
to be thrown overboard, so the sea can cleanse it. It has to be washed
off the hands and cast into the air, so the stars can take care of
it. We always look back at the shadows we pulled through, amazed at
how powerful we thought those dangers were.
- Be flexible.
The adaptable animal survives. If you get tired,
ship your paddle and rest. If you get hungry, put in on the beach
and eat a few oysters. If you can't figure one way to make it, do
something new. When the wind confronts you, sometimes you're supposed
to go the other way.
- The gift of each enriches all.
Every story is important. The bow, the stern, the
skipper, the power puller in the middle - everyone is part of the
movement. The elder sits in her cedar at the front, singing her paddle
song, praying for us all. The weary paddler resting is still ballast.
And there is always that time when the crew needs some joke, some
remark, some silence to keep going, and the least likely person provides.
- We all pull and support each other.
Nothing occurs in isolation. When we aren't in
the family of a canoe, we are not ready for whatever comes. The family
can argue, mock, ignore each other at its worst, but the family will
never let itself sink. A conoe that lets itself sink is certainly
wiser never to leave the beach. When we know that we are not alone
in our actions, we also know we are lifted up by everyone else.
- A hungry person has no charity.
Always nourish yourself. The bitter person, thinking
that sacrifice means self-destruction, shares mostly anger. A paddler
who doesn't eat at the feasts doesn't have enough strength to paddle
in the morning. Take that sandwich they throw at you at 2:00 A.M.!
The gift of who you are only enters the world when you are strong
enough to own it.
- Experiences are not enhanced through criticism.
Who we are, how we are, what we do, why we continue,
flourish with tolerance. The canoe fellows who are grim go one way.
The men and women who find the lightest flow may sometimes go slow,
but when they arrive they can still sing. And they have gone all over
the sea, into the air with the seagulls, under the curve of the wave
with the dolphin and down to the whispering shells, under the continental
shelf. Withdrawing the blame acknowledges how wonderful a part of
it all every one of us really is.
- The journey is what we enjoy.
Although the start is exciting and the conclusion
gratefully achieved, it is the long, steady process we remember. Being
part of the journey requires great preparation; being done with a
journey requires great awareness; being on the journey, we are much
more than ourselves. We are part of the movement of life. We have
a destination, and for once, our will is pure, our goal is to go on.
- A good teacher allows the students to learn.
We can berate each other, try to force each other
to understand, or we can allow each paddler to gain their awareness
through the ongoing journey. Nothing sustains us like that sense of
potential that we can deal with things. Each paddler learns to deal
with the person in front, the person behind, the water, the air, the
energy, the blessing of the eagle.
- When given any choice at all, be a worker bee - make