April 22, 2011

Uncertainty; or, Paddle Your Own Canoe!

Faithful followers, forgive my absence. England made me ill, as usual, and the last few days back in Berlin have been consumed with filling in blanks. Every year around this time the plans for the next year emerge all at once. Until this week, I knew not where I would be come September. It transpires that I shall remain in Berlin another year, which is really not such a bad thing. Memories of winter bleakness are fading quickly among the blossoms.

I’m not sure there is anything more difficult for a man than uncertainty. One tries to stride forth manfully, but one risks looking a fool, at best, when one marches headlong into a crevasse. Knowing where one is going is key, even if one only has a rough bearing, but sometimes it seems as if one must wait for outside forces to determine the direction. Here I usually turn to Baden-Powell.

‘Paddle your own canoe!’, sayeth Sir Robert, and we heartily concur. The river flows this way and that, and will take us where it will if we let it. Should we sit back and wait for fate, the river will crash us over falls and dash us against rocks, drown us in maelstroms, and strand us on unfriendly shores. We cannot help the river’s current, but we can negotiate it with tenacity, strength and skill. Paddle the bloody craft, and set course. When faced with uncertainty, one must take control of what one can. Specifics may remain hazy – geography, job, and so forth – but this haziness does not prevent one from keeping a firm grip on one’s oar, one’s purpose.

If anyone needs me, I’ll be on the Spree, paddling my own canoe.


  1. One of my own anchors is John Wayne's "Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway." I try to live that when uncertainty , which is what most fear is based on, appears. Not trying to push any macho agenda, just taking wisdom where I find it.

  2. Jolly good sentiment, VB! One is indeed a firm believer that one must be an active participant in one's own destiny. I may not know where I am always going, but I attempt to get there on my own power. Paddle on!

  3. Thank you kind Sirs. John Wayne should never be overlooked.

  4. I've missed a lot. Berlin? How wonderful, I would love an adventure abd change of scenery.

  5. I find myself in a similar situation right now. The phrase I use is "ruck over".

  6. Hang in there, little camper!
    I just surfed on to your blog & I am so glad that I did. I can't wait to go back & take a peek at what was manly in the past posts.

  7. Rugby is a great analogy for life, Joffre.

    Welcome Stephen. Good to have you on board.


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