COLUMN: Afloat on an ocean of peacefulness

Peace. It’s an ever-more elusive commodity, or condition, these days.

On Point by Andrew Holota

Peace.

It’s an ever-more elusive commodity, or condition, these days.

I don’t mean world peace. I’m pretty sure that never existed in the history of the human race, and in all likelihood, never will, unless we are all wiped off the planet by some super virus. And then peace would be rather moot, except for Mother Nature, who I’m sure would heave a great sigh of relief.

No, I mean peace and quiet. Peace within oneself.

Here’s a little secret. That sort of peace actually does exist. The wild west coast of this province is actually awash in it. You just have to go far and work hard to find it.

And when you do, the peace is so big, so all-encompassing, so unthinkable, you sometimes realize you’ve spent hours not really thinking at all – or at least, just thinking about mundane things, like what that eagle thinks about when it sits half the afternoon on the same tree branch.

One such place is the untrammelled coastline of Vancouver Island, reachable only by boat, or better yet, unmotorized craft such as a kayak.

Oh sure, even far away from the small communities and popular fishing spots, you can find people easily enough. But you can also unfind them.

That was the point of the exercise for my wife and me last week. Ocean kayaking is not for the unfit and faint of heart. But if you’re the adventurous sort, and thrive on spartan outdoor living conditions, you can float on an ocean of peace, shared only with whales, and sea otters and the odd bear. Bears like their peace too, so with some assertiveness, you can come to a mutual, occasionally adrenaline-filled agreement on sharing a beach.

What you don’t have to share is your thoughts. Nor do you have to put up with cellphone calls, pesky texts and torrents of inane Tweets. Actually, you have no choice. There are none.

Much of the wild west coast of this country can be counted among the last remaining places on Earth that do not have cell service.

What a blessed, wonderful thing.

Many people would not agree. Especially the majority of young folks, who rarely can be spotted without a cellphone grafted to a hand.

I couldn’t stand that. I like to have my hands free, ready to do something useful, like holding a paddle … or a fork.

The concept of mobile devices being utterly inoperable is clearly something that does exist in young people’s frame of reference.

A case in point: We take a satellite phone on our paddling expeditions, in case something goes badly wrong. That, and to assure family members – every other day or so – that we have not been swallowed by an orca, or blown offshore by gale force winds, on an irreversible course to Japan.

Even satellite service can be spotty, though, and the signal was poor on our first call home. Our teen daughter had trouble hearing, and told us to call her on our cell.

Under the circumstances, that was pretty funny.

There’s little to no commercial radio reception out there either. So, for however long we are gone, the world will go about doing whatever it does, without us having a clue.

For a journalist, you’d think that would be highly unsettling.

In fact, I apply an old expression to that. No news is good news.

I mean, what could happen, anyway? War breaks out in the Middle East? Olympic athletes are caught doping? Donald Trump is elected president of the United States?

If the latter does actually occur, I’m loading up the kayak and heading back out to the wild west coast. Way out.

Don’t try to call.

Andrew Holota is the editor of The Abbotsford News

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