Labour Day weekend is the marker for many things. It means that school is starting, or that the Bombers are coming to town. Labour Day weekend reminds us that fall is coming; but it can also share with us one last glimmer of summertime! At COR, Labour Day weekend is Dragon Boat season. A weekend where months of practice culminates and give us one final payoff!
This year we were graced with calm waters and sun. A kindness we are not often afforded by the spirit of the Dragon Boats. This opened the door for competitors to be at their best. Especially our crew who were participating in our seventh consecutive festival under the team name ‘Rock You to the COR.’
Our first race had us finishing second in our heat achieving a time of 2 minutes and 33 seconds. It was a solid first race and it made way for a second heat race time of 2:34. A third race was guaranteed to all teams, but not all teams were solidified a birth in the C-Final the way Rock You to the COR did! With close to a three hour break between race 2 and the C final under our belt, we readied ourselves for the final sprint of the day. A race for all the marbles and bragging rights told round water coolers for weeks to come. Dragon Boat glory!
We paddled out long and loose like Coach Brad taught us so many times before. Bobbing and stroking to the familiar beat of a drum. Breathing in and out rhythmically we transformed into a well-oiled machine. The voices from the crowd disappeared and all that was left was our team. Our team versus two other boats.
“Leave it all out on the water; Nothing left in the Tanks!” rings out in the silence. One last message for the team as we approach the starting line. We buried our paddles in Wascana Lake for what seemed like forever, and then a mega phone muffled out the word, ‘GO!’
For two and a half minutes time stood still.
Sport and physical activity brings something out in us. For the most part it finds the best parts of our heart and shares it’s passion with the world. Sometimes it asks that we dig a little deeper and often it exposes the true grit that exists in every ounce of our hard work. To start the season some of us started out as strangers, most of us were colleagues and friends, but today we were C-side champions.
All Day, All Night, Dragon Boat.
“Well I like COR cause people get along. They don’t fight, they don’t hit, and they don’t hurt kids. I feel safe. I know everything isn’t cheap, but I work hard for my money. I work 2 jobs. My life was not going very good before. My life was going down instead of going up. Now my life is going up. I don’t have to put up with people that try to hurt me because I know no one is going to hurt me. If I have a problem with people I can talk to them and they listen. I’m glad my friend helped me when my back got sore. If someone was afraid or something, COR would say “I’m not gonna hurt you, you can trust us”. I trust people at COR. I was scared at first. Oh yeah, it was scary. It was really new. That was a long time ago. I was scared of my new boss and my new job for a while too. I got used to them. I have to get used to my job’s new building now.”
“We often see ourselves as better than those whom we serve and express this in talking down to those who are troubled, acting condescendingly, separating ourselves from their lives, and making sure that we are in control instead of dialoguing. Our task as caregivers is companionship and community. Our culture makes it harder because there is an expectation that we must control others by withholding ‘positive attention’ when someone is acting out. Our position is the opposite. We need to be the most loving during the worst moments.”
“Our experiences with Gentle Teaching have taught us that change needs to start with us–our warmth, tolerance and the translation of values into relationships based on companionship. Our interactions need to reflect warm caring and a spirit of oneness in spite of even intense rejection or rebellion. They need to begin to signal feelings of empathy and the understanding that the relationship will evolve into an authentic friendship even though initially it is quite lop-sided.
Our interactions need to centre themselves on love the person with unconditional respect during the best moments and the most difficult ones. We have to care about the other and express the feeling that we are with and for the person. Spit can be running down our face or slaps stinging on our arms, but we need to unconditionally value the other. We are asked to transmit this feeling through dialogue and sharing our life experiences with the other. Our task is to initiate this process in a spirit of human solidarity.
Warmth can be felt in the tone of our voice, the sincerity of our gaze, and the serenity of our movements.
Tolerance is conveyed through patience in the face of aggression, respect in the face of rejection, and perseverance in the face of entrenched rebellion. Our values are the impetus within this process, and they need to be constantly questioned and deepened. It is this spirit that we have learned in our gentle teaching experiences–to break away from emotional homelessness, to rupture the cold grip of loneliness, and to center ourselves on unconditional love.
The challenge is not to find non-aversive behavioural techniques, but to formulate and put into practise a psychology of interdependence that goes against the grain of modifying the other and asks for mutual change. This presents a major challenge to parents, professionals, and advocates. It requires an awakening of our values and putting them into practice in the most difficult situations.”