I recently kayaked down the Smith River coursing through Redwoods National Park. My daughter and I were in one kayak intent to get downstream in one piece.


It sounded easier than it played out.


She’s nine, has never paddled and somehow was able to completely counteract all my efforts. Whether turning, slowing down, guiding us through rapids, it didn’t matter what I did, she somehow countered it and we’d drift aimlessly downstream.


I was so frustrated, and afraid, that I asked her to stop paddling through the still waters and the rapids.



These were easier grade rapids, but that didn’t matter. I was gripping my oars, worried about what lurked around the corner. I had never been here before, nor kayaked.


Sure there were others with us, two guides even, but I felt like it was up to me alone to steer clear amongst the fallen trees, boulders and currents pulling you into the various nooks and crannies where you could get you stuck.


It hit me about half way: Two wills, one boat.


We enjoyed the beautiful scenery, but every time I reminded her to not paddle, she’d set her paddle down and slump her shoulders a little bit. I ignored it as this was about safety. But I knew there was a better way that would require loosening my grip and allowing help.


About midway into the ride, she fell in a few times. And by fall in I mean leaned out so far to feel the rapids with her hands as she slipped right into the warm water.


I found myself face-to-face with one of my worst fears: Tipping over or one of us falling in.


Mamma mode kicked in and I grabbed her and held her close to the boat. With help, we hoisted her back into the kayak. The other time she jumped in as she accidently knocked her oars off the kayak, and swam back and we pulled her in again.


She loved it, smiling wide and soaked through. Me I was finally breathing deeply and beginning to enjoy our trip down the Smith. She reminds me all the time to truly be present and adventurous.


When we had a good enough smooth stretch of water, I decided to teach her the mechanics of paddling. I shared that I’m bigger and move slower and deeper so we need to synchronize to work together. I demonstrated the different paddle strokes and the motion it made with the kayak.


I even let her paddle alone a bit to get a feel for it.


We ended up coming up on a rapid where I soon realized I needed her help. So I asked her to paddle. She was elated. And to be completely honest we wouldn’t have made it through without her help.


She likes to share the story about how she helped paddle through the rapids in our kayak and that we wouldn’t have made it without her help.


The flow of the river was guiding us regardless, sure there were tough patches, but we were going to make it downstream one way or another with minimal effort if I wasn’t white-knuckling it all so bad.


But the path of the kayak was dependent on the two wills, and whether or not they’d work together.


We each have two wills. We have our self-will and our divine-will.


Divine will connects to the larger picture. It’s not about getting there as fast as you can, but ensuring you’ve encountered all transformative parts as it’s about growth just as much as producing, creating, or getting “there”.


Your self-will can often be about action, doing it alone, going about the way or path pioneered by others.


When you can align both, you can forge your own path, the one that sprouts from inside out.