Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Catalina 3

Isthmus Cove and Bird Rock

I just returned from my third trip chaperoning some students to Catalina Island. The trip itself is a wonderful opportunity for the students offering them experiences they might never have living in an inner city barrio. Some of these experiences; snorkeling, kayaking, swimming in the ocean, can help children overcome their fears. For example, one child confided in me he loves to swim.

"Really?" I ask.

"Yes, but in the neighborhood pool where I have the side to hang on to."

It was he, his face beaming with pride, who pointed out the ocean doesn't have a side to hold on to. And that now he can venture into the deep end of the pool.

I overcame some of my fears the first trip, but not on the second, nor this one. I was not looking forward to this trip as I had a hard time bonding with this group this year, even with some of the good kids. I'd hoped to bond with some of them while chaperoning this time. I did with some, but not to the extent I'd wanted, or hoped.

Perhaps it was the small group of difficult students that forced me to focus on them, rather than the great students in the overall group, or that wouldn't let me just relax and enjoy myself. Perhaps it was the overall negative space where I am right now that pushed me to see the negative rather than the positive this year. Perhaps there was something else. Or a bit of all of the above.

I was there on the ship just helping supervise the more difficult ones, and trying to interact with the well behaved ones. I didn't kayak, I didn't snorkel, I didn't jump off the ship again. And I was fine with that.

We actually spend most of our time on the ship; all but two meals are eaten there, and we sleep in bunks built into the hull of the ship. On the first day, once we cross the Channel and anchor, there is a small activity in an isolated cove where the students get some lessons in handling a kayak, before they go kayaking in the open channel the next day. Our last full day is the only time we spend a good deal of time on the island itself. In between these days, everything else is done aboard ship. During this entire trip, the students are supervised by the naturalists, and we are invited to participate in the activities; either on ship, a kayak, on land or in the ocean. Or, we can get some private time away from the group.

Catalina wild buffalo
On Island Day there is a hike before lunch across the isthmus and the naturalists discuss the political, natural and geologic history of the island, and after lunch there is shallow water snorkeling or tide pooling. Or we can take a break from the kids. After all, it has been about three days at this point, including travel time to the ship and sailing across the channel. And we do sleep in the cabins with the little darlings. Talk about taking work home with you.

That's why I chose to take a hike.

I had been looking forward to the morning hike, because I wanted to revisit my rock. My first time there, after lunch, my colleague and I hiked back across the isthmus, about 0.5 miles (770 m), from the Channel side to the Pacific side and ventured down the cliff and explored the rocky shore. While there I was mesmerized by this rock, entranced by the layers and realizing each layer meant thousands of years of earth's history. If only those layers could talk! I later blogged about it.

I am a Rock, June 2011

I really felt the need to connect with my rock again, hoping it would help me get a handle on this negative space I'm in. We hiked over the isthmus to the Pacific side and when it was time to return, I stayed behind and went down to the shore and tried to find my rock. It was difficult as I was relying on memory to find it. I believe I did, though it did not speak to me as I had hoped. I think my energy wasn't in tune to it, or it had told me what it needed to and was silent.
My Rock, 2013

Yet, I did get a message.

In a way.

In the silence.

It had told me its stories, and now it's time for me to tell mine.

Maybe that will break the spell.

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