During the last two weeks of October, I paddled a couple of waterways around Farmville, Virginia. The first paddle was a Monday morning amble on the Farmville Blueway Trail. A map can be found on the Friends of the Appomattox River page. The trail starts at the put-in at Wilcks Lake. It goes across the length of the lake, portages over to Buffalo Creek and paddles the creek to the confluence of the Appomattox River. Then you paddle the Appomattox to the take out at Riverside Park. I had taken a demo Feelfree Moken 10 Lite from the store with the intent of just paddling around Wilcks Lake, but events on that morning led me to paddle the whole trail.
My one year old daughter rises at 7 am every morning and my wife and I alternate getting her up. This particular Monday I got up with her and my wife stayed in bed. She commenced to stay in bed all morning. I commenced stewing about this fact and stayed upset about it even after I had put the baby down for her nap and left the house. I still kissed my wife goodbye as she lay snuggled in bed, but I huffed in my most frustrated tone that "I was going paddling", as I walked out of our room. For some reason I felt it unfair that my wife stayed in bed for the three and a half hours that our daughter was up.
It didn't take long for the beauty of fall to calm my judgmental musings. I slowly settled in to the peaceful paddle and let the myriad shades of the leaves, color my attitude. It was surprising how remote sections of this float felt despite being in the heart of Farmville.
The Feelfree Moken 10 Lite performed great. Combine the 'Lite' build with the Feelfree wheel-in-the-keel and portaging was a cinch. It maneuvered exceptionally well, cutting around all the little obstructions on Buffalo Creek and the Appomattox River. The Moken 10 (closeouts!) is a nice stable, compact fishing rig with great maneuverability, and now it is lighter. The new Moken Lite also comes with mounting tracks system and the big pimping Kingfisher seat.
My wife and daughter picked me up at Riverside Park and we all went out to lunch. I had spent a solid three hours floating the Farmville Blueway Trail. My wife had spent a solid three hours sleeping in. We both needed our three hours.
On Tuesday evening, my wife and I paddled a 4 mile section of the Appomattox River. It was our anniversary. We put in right beside the store and took out at my father-in-law's cattle property. We paddled a Mad River Canoe Adventure 14 from the used boats section for our trip. The Mad River Adventure canoes are bombproof starter boats, excellent second canoes and a great family boat for those who are rough on gear.
We encountered multiple obstructions along the way. It was a bit poetic that our anniversary float involved so much teamwork. There was plenty of opportunity for us to get frustrated with each other, but we soldiered through, both understanding and fulfilling our roles. My wife even let me paddle stern the whole trip! It only took two years. :)
The paddle was gorgeous, the leaves were breathtaking and we had two herons that led us down the river. We had plenty of time to reminisce about the rapid growth of our family and our plans for the future.
Life with a spouse is about concessions, at least it is when everyone is on equal ground. It can be tough. When you add kids or work stress or family issues to any relationship, things can get bumpy. Everybody handles things differently, everybody has their challenges. As Bob Marley once sang, "every man think his burden is the heaviest." It is important to remember to always love and to sometimes concede. Occasionally, we have to release our ego, our attachment to our desire, in order to understand our partner and to find balance. If one person always gets their way, then the other is unhappy and that unhappiness begins to eat away at the partnership and eventually, both people are unhappy.
During the Farmville Blueway Trail solo paddle, I had to come to terms with my unrelenting ego. I had a hard time, that morning, giving my wife those hours of sleep, because I wanted to go outside. I begrudgingly conceded the morning to her. While paddling I realized how fortunate I was to have married someone who favors their alone time as much as I. We both love to recreate, but that morning, my wife needed to sleep in. I needed to give that to her without judgment.
During our anniversary paddle, my wife and I faced 5-6 obstructions on the river. We had to work together to scale some of the larger ones. Getting a canoe full of gear across wet, slippery logs in the middle of the river with two people can be tough. Patience, understanding and teamwork are key. Marriage is very similar. The arc of a lifelong relationship is a lot like a big float. Each couple has their own canoe, full of baggage, that needs to be portaged over obstacles and dangerous setbacks. How you do in those times reflects directly upon the health of your relationship. Letting go of your individual desire and focusing on the team goal is occasionally essential. In a partnership with two egos, as the song goes, "you can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need."