Book Excerpt: Staying Present

As I drive down Highway 69 to the 400 past Britt, past Pointe au Baril, past Shawanaga First Nation, and eventually past Parry Sound I leave my radio off.

I capture pockets of time to reflect while guiding a canoe trip. It’s on the car ride home where I dive deeper. I think about what went well and what could have run more smoothly.

I replay conversations in my head searching for clues. I wonder if each woman feels like she got what she wanted out of the trip. The last day of our time together always seems rushed when I look back.

Staying Present

As much as I work to stay present, soaking in every last bit of red pine scent, warbler songs, and Canadian Shield landscape, my clients’ minds have drifted towards their families, flush toilets, and maybe a hot shower. I don’t blame them. My mind wanders to what e-mails are sitting in my inbox when I’m on vacation too.

I’m not sure what it would take to keep our focus on our vacation time, on what we’re doing right at that very moment, when we’re away from our day-to-day routine. Most meditation practices I’ve tried ask that I notice when my thoughts have drifted away and that I gently redirect ourselves towards whatever my intention was for that session. Easier said than done until it becomes a habit.

In a group setting though, particularly one bigger than our ten person trip, once one person starts down the road of “I can’t wait for a scoop of Kawartha’s white chocolate cherry cheesecake ice cream in a waffle cone” it isn’t long before the next person joins the chorus.

Staying present is tough when there's ice cream

I know when it occurs out in the backcountry, part of the mind drift can be attributed to lack of comfort – whether that is physical discomfort (“I miss my bed”) or mental discomfort (“I’ve never spent three solid days without my phone before”) – and so our minds turn back to the familiar.

All I can hope in these instances is that I’ve lit a small spark somewhere that will one day smolder into a dancing campfire, safely burning in a fire ring.

I’m writing a career change memoir and I’d love your feedback as I post small ~300 word blurbs.  Sometimes less. Sometimes more. What do you want to know more about? What works for you? What doesn’t work for you? Comment below or e-mail me.

2 Responses to “Book Excerpt: Staying Present

  • Kate, I’m so happy you are writing this book. I opened your newsletter today and saw your mention of it and then the link to the post about aiming to get 100 rejections in a year, and they both totally inspired me. I think I might need to get the name of the career coach you used. And I have a lot of reading to catch up on with your blog. 🙂

    • Thank you, Terri! I used Career Joy:

      It’s always an adventure, isn’t it?

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