What textures make up the substance of your life? Do you prefer a smooth, simple, serene tempo, or do you enjoy a more varied, unpredictable, mixed up energy in your days? Merriam-Webster has many definitions of texture. My favorites are: something composed of closely interwoven elements; the disposition or manner of union of the particles of a body or substance; identifying quality : character.
When my beloved and I are kayaking on a clear day, the surface texture of the water provides a wealth of patterns and mosaics – all signs of the character of the upcoming journey. Some areas will look as clear as glass, even on a moving river. Other areas will be less settled and even. Sometimes that’s because of plants growing up to the surface, or recent activity by animals – maybe fish, frogs, turtles, snakes, insects or water birds. It could be that a wind is blowing, disturbing the surface. In some places, it’s a portent of tidal waters pushing against the flow of the river, signaling a harder paddle ahead. Or, more ominously, a disturbance could mean hidden rock formations just below, creating a constant pattern on the surface above. When the rocks are at or above the surface, they may form narrow channels, or rapids.
An experienced paddler learns to read a river – to see the happy signs of possible wildlife sightings in the water, to paddle into waves rather than being broadsided by them, to skirt the shallow and rocky areas, and to ride the rapids without capsizing. The more we paddle, the better we become at reading both the surface of the water and what lies beneath, allowing us to act accordingly.
The older we get, the better we become at reading life. We learn that sometimes it’s best to identify and face issues head-on, and not to be broadsided trying to evade them. Sometimes we can keep the waters around us calmer by exercising discretion and choosing kindness. Do we roil the waters, or try to leave them undisturbed? We can’t always avoid coming turbulence, but with a little warning and practice we learn to navigate through, and be wiser on the other side. We can also learn to spot some wonderful opportunities along the way.
Every life hits some waves or rapids (and some smooth patches), sooner or later. And every traveler leaves his own wake and textures in the water. No life would be complete without somehow joining and adding to its surface and underlying textures. Each of us deepens the colors, sounds, and appearance of our surrounding world, and we are each a part of the fabric of our universe. A life without textures would be dull and uninteresting, and we should choose carefully the colors and character we add.
We can’t control what lies ahead, but how we manage the hazards and possibilities in the textures of our days is what defines us. Paddle through with care.
This post was written in response to a Travel Theme challenge from Ailsa at wheresmybackpack. This week’s theme is Texture. To learn more about the challenge and see what textured responses other bloggers submitted, click here.