My summer job in high school and college was at a canoe rental in the Florida panhandle (Adventures Unlimited is still a great place to go canoeing or tubing today). I didn’t realize it at the time, but the work taught me about the importance of solitude and silence. There was a stark contrast between busloads of people filled with excitement (and noise) for a day on the Coldwater River, and the solitary work of unloading canoes on the sandbar early in the morning. My favorite job was called “The Top,” where from 7 to 8 a.m. you had to carry 100+ canoes about 30-40 yards down to the “beach” in preparation for the first busloads that would arrive around 8:30 a.m. It was a great physical workout that took about one hour. The reward for this solitary hard work was the 30 minutes of silence lying still in a canoe or in the river, listening to the breeze, the birds and the trickle of the water. I didn’t know that one day I would compose a song called Silence that always reminds me of those early years nurturing my soul with times of solitude and quiet.
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