Bend Like the Willows

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Photograph courtesy of iStock

Being a lifelong water person, I find every issue of BLUE is a pleasure to work on, an opportunity to explore and bring the best aspects of waterfront living and lifestyles to our readers.

I still remember my first ocean plunge as a young child visiting family in Atlantic City, New Jersey, an experience full of excitement, fear and pleasant surprise. I quickly found that to float requires letting go. The years that followed were spent as a waterlogged teen in any backyard pool come summer. Then came learning to sail on Lake St. Clair and the nuances involved: learning to read the wind, the fine points of shaping sails, boat handling in rough waves followed by years spent racing large and small boats and cruising.

My river years were no less formative; fluidness and balance are essential for paddling proficiency, as is reading currents, and those lessons are valuable in other everyday parts of life. Bruce Lee, the martial artist and actor, reportedly once said: “Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.”

One of my favorite features in this issue gets at these ideas, among others. It presents the experiences of women who take time out of their lives to attend “Shred Camp,” a yoga, stand-up paddleboard and surfing camp held annually in Empire. Their motivations are varied, but they come to find balance.

“Lake Michigan’s sheer size and power can feel overwhelming at first, but the women learn to embrace the water’s fluidity, its constant change and movement. Metaphors between the women’s experiences in the water and in the rest of their lives abound: instability and adaptation; balance and release; turbulence and calm; falling and rising, again and again,” the story reads. “We tend to take ourselves too seriously. But there is beauty in just letting go. When was the last time you just splashed and tumbled around in the water? For most of us adults, it’s been a long time.”

This understanding is essential in life; just look at what all of us have learned about adaptation in the Year of the Pandemic. Sometimes we need to bend like the willows.

Howard Meyerson
Managing Editor, Michigan BLUE Magazine

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