Here is a story I wrote for David Suzuki's website. David is one of Canada's foremost champions of the natural world. He recently asked us to share our favorite story about the Canadian Pacific Ocean as part of his efforts to help bring awareness and appreciation to this magnificent area. At the end of our story he asked us to write a note to our fellow Canadians in reference to our subject.
This is mine. It is about a Leadership Retreat I did many years ago on a cruising yacht along the central coast of British Columbia and the epiphany I had at that time about how the world might change.
here is the link to David's website if you would like to read more stories and get to know about his wonderful work.
Sea of Silent Dreams
Thank you Dr. David Suzuki for your invitation to tell my favorite story about Canada’s Pacific Ocean. I have been waiting to extend an invitation of my own for the past twenty years, here it is.
Dear World Leaders
Yes, I DO mean each and every one of you. All of you who have the decision making power and money in your hands; kings and queens, presidents and premiers, chief executive officers, boards of directors across the globe. All of you who are shaping
our world today and paving the way of the future for our precious blue green planet.
You are here by invited to come upon a floating leadership retreat that will depart from the lovely port of Vancouver, British Columbia and journey up the mystical coastline to the home of the spirit bear. Our escorts will be pods of dolphins, Orca whales, seals, sea lions and flocks of seabirds. At night you will sleep under a dome of stars that will cradle you as you rest, perhaps more deeply than you have in a long, long while.
It may be misty or even downright sopping wet, so for sure, do bring your rain gear. You will be provided with a full set of fleece wear, made in Canada, of course, and also woolen blankets and moccasins designed especially for you by the First Nations Tribes who are the sovereign keepers of the land and sea in this area. They await your visit with as much urgent hope as I do, actually I would say, a million times a million more !!!
Please, please, say you will come. I know it will be well worth your while.
So what is this gift that is inspiring me extend such a bold invitation to heads of state and corporate giants? What on earth could be so important that I am asking you to come all the way to the no man’s land of the northern British Columbia Pacific Ocean?
In order to explain, I will share my story of making this trip almost twenty years ago.
We were creating a pilot program for executives and leaders, my two colleagues and I. Just three staff and one brave business leader, conducting an experiment to see how feasible it might be to offer leadership retreats in this way. I am a leadership coach and have learned that nature is a powerful ally in the fulfillment of my life’s calling.
Our journey was being made on a magnificent cruising yacht, an old forestry boat that had been decked out in high style, except for its huge noisy diesel engine borrowed from a transport truck. I was already convinced that our client would have an impactful experience, just getting away from the office and being surrounded by gorgeous nature while we did our sessions together on board.
Little did I know that I was the one that was in for the greatest transformation.
We began our voyage in Bella Bella. You may have heard of it, as there are currently designs to run an oil pipeline through this pristine area where gentle, wise people have lived and sustained their culture of balance and harmony for thousands of years.
We were blessed with radiant sunshine that first day and even though I am very used to the many natural wonders of my home and native land, the power and magnificence of this untamed wilderness was completely captivating. As our captain expertly navigated us into a small cove that first evening, after several hours of cruising, something very amazing happened for me at the end of my work day.
I was tired and still a little anxious about whether this experiment was really going to work. Here is what happened next.
The boat came to a stop and the anchor was securely set. After the surging ocean all day, it was amazing to see that here in our wee cove, the water like glass. As it was bathed by the soft light of sunset, perfect mirror images of the mountains that surrounded us sent the peaks diving deep into the clear cold depths. I was at the stern, just staring off and thinking about what we would have for dinner.
With a simple push of a button the captain turned off the huge noisy engines.
Instantly I was enveloped in a silence so pure and encompassing that it made its way like a laser beam right into the center of my heart. Everything in my universe had become utterly and completely still. I sat transfixed for what seemed like hours yet was more like a few minutes. Everything fell away, every modicum of stress, every tight grip in my body, every layer of subtle protection around my vulnerable human core, even my sense of identity and self-importance in my place in the world. Nothing remained but utter peace and openness that had no boundary.
I felt a relief I had never experienced before. Something very primal in me realizing that I had ached for just this experience, so utterly and completely free from the noise and clamor of life, since my very first breath. I felt like I was home and that there was absolutely nothing that I needed to fear, nothing I needed to have. I felt full and complete and at ease in every cell of my being.
As I came back into awareness after this precious journey into infinite purity and stillness, I noticed that great rives of tears were running down my face.
With utterly no conscious thought I heard myself say:
"If the leaders of the world would come here, and experience THIS, I know that the world would change."
At that exact moment, the silence and crystal, clear, evening light was filled with the cry of a single bald eagle: "Yes Yes Yes!!! Bring them here, I am waiting with hope in my heart, also."
My epiphany has been shared with many clients and friends over the years. Now as our precious ocean and her coastline seem more at risk than ever of losing their purity and ancient power to move the hearts of man, I write to all of you.
Please, Please, say you will come. I will figure out the details along the way. Perhaps some of you who are not managing the strife of war or corporate take-over, might volunteer your airplanes and company jets to help bring your fellow leaders here. I will ask Prime Minister Harper if the Canadian Navy might step in to help with providing some vessels for our voyage. I am certain the First Nations leaders would be most eager to offer their magnificent canoes for our sailing summit.
With respect for your courageous call to leadership, I send this request.
I await your replies with wild daring that you might just take me seriously.
I hold in my heart the vision of how the world might change in the hands of leaders whose own hearts have been held in the loving embrace of this magnificent sea of silent dreams.
Donna Grace MacLeod
Message to Canadians:
Paddlers Wanted! Anyone with an extra canoe or really BIG boat?