IN my retired life, other than writing and growing roses, a favorite leisure-time activity of mine is lake-paddling in my bright red canoe. That brings into sharp awareness basic laws of physics that apply to living a productive life. Let me explain.
When I sit quietly in my canoe without paddling, the stability of my boat is delicate. Tipping over and being dumped into the water is an action that can occur with scant provocation. But when I paddle toward a given destination, the act of sustained movement of my canoe over the water creates surprising gyroscopic stability to my canoe. It's not too far afield from Sir Isaac Newton’s First Law of Motion,The Law of Inertia, to wit:“An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in uniform motion tends to stay in motion…”
Now, if we take the knowledge of this Law of Inertia, this stability factor—what I term “The Canoe Principle”--and apply it to life, it translates like this: Once we have a destination in mind and set ourselves in motion toward that destination (akin to my paddling my canoe), our life suddenly becomes much more stable and, by sheer application of continuous effort (uniform motion), we soon arrive at our destination.
Let me cite an example:Micha, a friend of mine, had a dream since his youth of becoming an Assistant Cruise Director.One day he changed his dream into an achievable goal by taking action.He no longer simply dreamed of being an Assistant Cruise Director; he chose becoming an Assistant Cruise Director as his destination, and he set himself in uniform motion by learning all he could about his chosen destinational direction by reading every magazine and article and brochure and book he could find on his chosen career and by engaging in information-seeking conversations with anyone who had knowledge about cruise ship activities. He then set out on a relentless campaign of sending letters to cruise ship companies and scores of individuals employed by cruise ship companies telling them of his goal and asking for their help in arriving at his chosen destination.Today, Micha is Assistant Cruise Director of a major cruise ship company!
Micha is a real-life illustration of taking Newton’s Law of Inertia, that is, "The Canoe Principle," and applying it to life: He chose a destination and set himself in uniform motion toward that destination. His success is history.
Now, I would like to reveal to you another way of applying Newton’s Law of Inertia and "The Canoe Principle" to living a more productive life:Far too many people of this world complain that they have difficulty getting a desired project done because they can't get motivated to begin. And all too frequently, motivation never comes.The problem is they have their priorities in reverse order.Let me share with you a secret few people understand:Motivation springs forth from action!
The next time you lament the fact you're way behind on your homework assignment or some other desired project because you can't get motivated to get started, put yourself in motion, anyway. Take one step toward doing your project anyway, that is, Start Paddling.Once you begin the activity and put yourself in motion, motivation (enthusiasm for the project) springs forth all by itself!What I’m talking about is taking a basic principle of physics--An object in uniform motion tends to stay in motion--and applying it to everyday living.And it works!
In the same way my “Canoe Principle" application of Newton’s First Law of Motion lends stability to my boating adventures, so too does getting started or taking that first step--putting yourself in uniform motion--lend motivation to accomplishing and completing your still-on-the-shelf project. Once you put yourself in motion, you tend to stay in motion. Motivation springs forth from action! Suddenly, that project that you just couldn’t get motivated to get started on becomes an accomplished fact. My friends, you don’t have to be a deep-thinking Laws-of-Motion advocate or a lake-paddling “Canoe Principle” enthusiast to enjoy success in accomplishing your desired projects if you just remember: "Start Paddling."The results are amazing!
Exactly right, Richard...the "the canoe principle" propels two of my favorite rural pearls of wisdom I heard as a young girl growing up in a small mountain community and I first heard these rural pearls of wisdom sitting around a pot-bellied stove when my father handed me the coal bucket to show me the principle of stoking heat. These things he told me. "Don't have a wishbone where your backbone should be." And he told me this: "There are those who wait for things to happen, there are those who make things happen, and there are those who say 'What happened?'" I've seen the picture of you and the canoe before in one of your postings. I imagine those are Nike's you are wearing...nice to see you posting again, Richard...
Welcome back to AuthorsDen, Richard. I really enjoyed your article detailing principles of motion that are so absolutely true. "Just do it" is a wonderful starter for folks that seem to spend most of their time procrastinating.
I believe we can gain insights and powerful knowledge from all we do--and your canoe and your love of it has definitely furnished you food for plenty of wonderful thought.
Well done, and I hope to see more of your writings.
Just an excellent article, Richard, and so true too. You presented it with such absolute clarity, good illustrations and analogies. I wish I had more often made this principle a guiding one in my life, but too often I have been guilty of simply balancing in my canoe. Your principle is such a great way to overcome depression too. Nothing gets rid of the doldrums like taking action. . ....Your years have blessed you with great wisdom...Jerry