I Want to Row a Boat

Posted on by Jeff Raught

Lately I have had a strong desire to row a boat. I’m not sure why. I’ve paddled canoes, I’ve floated on tubes down a river. But a rowboat is something different. It would have been the first boat I was allowed to navigate by myself. Having grown up in northern Pennsylvania, Bunnel’s Pond and Elk Lake were my first chances.

You sit in the center of the boat and you can choose which way to sit. You pull your way through or you can face it and push. There is a trade-off. By pulling, you literally dig into a strength of your body, or at least what strength you have. Face it and you see where you’re going but it’s a little harder. It’s a rhythm that you seek. A rowboat does not quite cut through the water like a canoe or kayak. It’s a slower pace. You do not even need to navigate in the same way with a rowboat. It’s usually open water, or eventually finding yourself tucked in some delightful cove.


I want to row again. I think that I will find some mysteries of my life when I row. Many of us go through times where our oars are not quite reaching as deep as we would like. But one of the reassuring things about a rowboat is…..we are still afloat. We can get pushed by the wind, but not so much the current. I love a rowboat  and the idea that someone can come along with me they can… just sit… I can put myself in the middle of the boat and pull two of us forward. And sometimes, someone does that for me. I’ve know people from Harrisonburg to Honesdale who have been the ones pulling me through.

If I’m honest with myself, that mirrors my life…the rowboat that is. I have a few ideas about where I’m going, but I really don’t know what’s in store.I want to find myself along the Buckland shore of Elk Lake. Looking down into the water…. not really worrying exactly where I’m headed.  Looking for a fish, skimmin’ a lily pad. Still, I do keep looking. Peering into the water, gauging how the depth of it all changes. Seeing the slope of the shallows and watching it drop off into the deeps. I’m off the lane of the skiers, so I can hear the water lap up on the shore.

I think….. I need…..to row……to find myself on the still water. Pulling myself through this life. This life that I didn’t expect. The one I was not prepared for….. at any age. And yet here I am. I am still on top of the water.  I did not plan on the detours. I didn’t expect to find them on top of the water. And yet maybe they are not detours after all. A log… or maybe a dock. A place I can stop for awhile and talk to a friend…or even a stranger. I need to row. I think we all do. Sooner or later we navigate the waters alone. Along the surface, and just below. I look forward to seeing you on the water… at a slower pace of life. And let me know if you need a hand, I can row for awhile if it helps.

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