So I’m Grade 2 now. It’s official. This means I’m now fair dinkum. I actually feel like I’m better than I was only the other day. I probably am because I have some real skill and real confidence. Falling out of a kayak takes practice. You need to feel secure in your ability to stay upside down for a while and then climb out. I can do this pretty routinely now and it’s even fun. I can do other stuff too, without falling out, like edging, bracing, recovering, towing.
We went surfing. Huge it was. Some waves were nearly, oh, let’s see…a foot. The hard-core in the club and other readers may scoff at the total lameness of this but when I think back to the day I brought Eco home and the humiliation of my first paddle at Valentine on the same day and how terrified I was to paddle on anything but mirror-like water I think how fortunate to have persevered. I nearly ebayed the lot at one stage.
(Henry Van der Kolk)
There’s a point whenever you are doing something new where everything just clicks together. You’ve been doing it for a while, even years, clumsily, then all of a sudden BANG you are in the zone. Not right in. You’re still not “good” but you’ve hit the point where you’re not rubbish, where you are co-ordinated and putting it together. I had the same thing happen when I was learning the guitar and when I started karate 30 years ago. It happened when I was a salesman and an electrician. It’s the point where you are glad you didn’t give up and where you get your first reward. I got this on Saturday when David Hipsley decided I was fit to sit on the water with him. That in his dry, inscrutable way he decided I would move through the next phase with some sort of haste. He still didn’t have a lot of trust but this was good. This little exchange probably meant nothing to him, he’s no doubt said it to numerous people he’d trained, but to me it was a watershed.
Similarly, when we were packing up, some other ‘apprentices’ approached me and declared they would like to paddle with me. My response “Shit really!? Me? Yeah OK, sure.” That was internal monologue. Actually, being a hardened corporazzo and front-line manager meant my external demeanour was cool and like this happened every day. It used to, when I was a super-fit nationally ranked athlete in my teen prime but I’m 44 now and my body is a busted-ass train wreck. But sea-kayaking is not like competitive swimming. It’s not about pure speed and endurance. It’s about experience, timing, calmness and patience. Sure, it’s physically demanding but it’s not a race, not a competition. Sea-kayakers are in their prime at my age, Hipsley’s age and you can keep going well into your 70’s and 80’s if you’re fit. So being asked to be included in the future paddling plans of my companions was a huge thrill and a vote of confidence that I didn’t even have in myself for a long time. So thanks all, I guess, but I think the best thanks would be to deliver and show them my lake and my backyard.
(David Hipsley mustering)