The Best Part was the Quiet


I decided on an early evening paddle tonight upstream from Sellwood towards Milwaukee. There was a south breeze blowing when I was figuring out my route and I always like to go upwind first when I’m doing a loop of any kind. As soon as I passed under the Sellwood Bridge, a direct headwind greeted me. It wasn’t a hard wind by any stretch, just a reminder from nature I was there for a little exercise. Just past the two mile mark was Elk Rock Island with a little, lonely stretch of beach welcoming me for a short break. I understood why it was a lonely stretch as soon as I stepped off my board and into shin deep mud. Ugh. Not a big deal though, I just slogged through until the ground firmed and found a felled tree to sit on. I broke out my single beverage (I always have a single can of something for emergency purposes!), checked my phone to see if my wife had texted (she had), and checked Map My Fitness to check my speed. I managed to take two images with my phone (the one here) and then my phone crashed. It wouldn’t restart, it was just through, dead. I cursed for a few seconds, attempted to make it restart, which was pretty much just holding the power button and begging quietly to start, and then packed it back in my camelback when I realized it was going to win this round. Then I realized for the first time today, maybe the first time in a few weeks, it was quiet. I was alone, there were no boats blaring bad music powering by, I wasn’t even close enough to 99E to hear cars. It was just quiet.

I could swear my blood pressure dropped a few points just then when I couldn’t possibly intake any more information in my brain but the┬áserene landscape in front of me. No ambient noises like cars and boats, no jets overhead, not even wildlife like crows cackling and whining. It was just peaceful, period. I took a few slow breaths to equalize my brain to the serenity of the landscape and quietly appreciated the instant for the beauty and the minimal input being demanded of my brain for a few minutes.

It’s moments like this I realize how we can overwhelm ourselves with constant input with media demands, social demands, email checks, texting, input, input, input! I felt so peaceful without my media device demanding my attention for a change, it felt wonderful. I won’t say I’m happy my phone crashed (it’s still hosed) but it sure felt right at that moment. Reminder to me and to you for future stress relief: Remember to shut down the media device now and then, sit down, and┬ájust relax.

About the author

A lifelong surfer and now a regular SUP'r, Brett has lived in Portland, Oregon for 16 years. With a lifetime of shoulder wear from paddling, SUP was a logical transition to keep him on the water. Now he SUP surfs, downwinds, races, and recreationally paddles with friends and family as much as life will allow.