I’ve finished another kayak lesson, and I’ve come to understand: this is what addiction feels like. Ever since I started this, people who are close to me know, I just can’t shut up about these lessons. I was apprehensive about this week’s lesson: wet exit and re-entries. Learning to capsize and be in control was one of the main reasons I wanted to take this course. It was also an idea that terrified me.
Capsizing not half as bad as I imagined, and my perspective changed quite a bit after that class. I went into it thinking of capsizing as something to avoid and re-entries as a skill that I should hope to never actually have to use. But, our instructor likened capsizing in kayaking to falling in skiing. Accept that it will happen, and it will free you to improve on your skills and get better at kayaking. As far as falling goes, falling into water is about the safest kind. I had never thought of it that way, but how true!
I knew I liked paddling, but the fear of capsizing kept me from going on the ocearn. Now that I’ve tried it, I’m sorry I didn’t try it sooner. Somewhat surprisingly, the person who has taken the most interest in my courses (or at least heard me out the most as I describe in every detail the amazing new things I’m learning) is my mom. Mom had never warmed to paddling, even though I tried several times to introduce her to it at the lake. She never felt in control enough to be comfortable in a kayak and recalls with awe that my first time ever on a kayak was a family trip with her.
I was 14 or 15 when I paddled my first kayak, a handcrafted wooden beauty from Britannia Shipyards in Steveston. I don’t know when rentals stopped, only that when I was older and wanted to repeat this experience, they were no longer there. Prior to this, I had been on a canoe. The nimbleness of a kayak (even a huge wooden one) immediately appealed to me. Add to that, both sides getting an even workout and the freedom of paddling solo (a much more technically demanding task in canoeing), and I knew I had found my craft.
I’ve had my eye on this kayak course for more than 5 years, but did not take it until now. My mom commented how it’s funny I take to this now, at a time when I’m busier than ever. I’ve thought a little about why now:
1) I was afraid of going to the course alone.
Being an introvert, it’s always a challenge for me to join a new group. It took this many years until I found someone who shared the same interest in taking a course. To pursue interests that are important to me, I need to be more willing to go it alone.
2) I thought it was too expensive.
At around $500, the course costed a considerable amount. There was always the nagging question of, do I really need lessons? The answer is no. There are a lot of resources such as books and clubs to meet more experienced paddlers, but now I am taking the course, I can vouch for the value that the course offers, despite its cost. The focused and technical step-by-step instruction with live demonstrations and interaction makes the large sum worthwhile.
3) My mindset.
Earlier on in my career, I was saving for the future. Now, I am allowing myself to spend a little and enjoy myself.
4) I thought I was too busy.
There is nothing like becoming a parent, or, as a friend so aptly calls his wife, “Director of Operations of the household”, that redefines busy. Looking back, juggling my commitments pre-kids was easy. It took me a long time to realize that to be good at parenting, I needed to carve time out for myself and my interests.
In retrospect, I would have benefitted a lot from taking this course earlier. I would’ve known earlier how much fun this sport is and had a few more years to develop skills. I’m ever so grateful that I got that kick in the butt from my youth group friend.
I suspect that these four factors has kept me in inaction in more ways than one. This experience, if anything, impresses upon me the shortness of our lives and the importance of pursue what is important to us while we can. It is easy to take our physical health for granted. Recently, in trying to persuade my mom to join me on a paddle, I’m reminded how this activity that I love now may not be something I can do forever.