Have you ever had a memory of someone pop into your head and wonder “where did that come from, I haven’t thought of her in decades”? That was my experience this morning and it was Bunny Johns who emerged.
One spring about 40 years ago on a solo trip to the Nantahala Outdoor Center in western North Carolina I met Bunny Johns. Walking alone on the railroad track alongside the spectacular Nantahala River, I recall how she appeared to me: confident, kind, curious, athletic, and at peace. She said, “Hello, I don’t see many people out this way where I like to walk, it’s beautiful isn’t it?”.
I was on a quest to discover myself, and it felt like serendipity to connect with a woman like her. She invited me to go paddling with her sometime and I agreed hoping she knew what she was doing because I sure didn’t.
Turns out Bunny Johns was an elite paddler of the open canoe and had earned the Gold Medal at the Wildwater World Championships in Wales. She was an instructor and then became President of the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) near Bryson City, N.C., and she revolutionized the way whitewater paddling was taught.
As I returned time and again to the NOC and even worked there after graduate school, Bunny continued to be a role model for me. As a humble, strong woman living her dreams in a world not previously open to women, she gave me a glimpse of a path that I too could follow: a path to freedom and growth and joy.
Keep reaching for more. Keep growing and learning. Continue your quest toward awakening your spirit. The “random” encounters you have can be profound. It depends on what you are looking for and your willingness to “see” with an open heart.
Check out Brad Paisley's song "Water" here!