Is Kayaking Really a Metaphor for Life?

2016 has been an interesting year in my life. If I’m being honest it has easily been the most difficult year of my life to date. I started the year off with big plans and high hopes and nearly none of it came to fruition. If there is one thing I am proud of this year it’s the progression in the two young shit runners I’ve been paddling with. These kids have a passion for the sport that is rarely seen. What’s even more impressive is the way they express what I call the right attitude toward the river. It’s really great to see the next generation of kayaker progressing. I could keep talking about them but by now you’re wondering what this has to do with the title and they might be reading this so I don’t want to say too many nice things about them.

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The crew looking back upstream after a successful introduction to class IV paddling.

Here is the connection to the metaphor mentioned in the title. The two above mentioned groms wanted to get on the Tiger Creek section of the Mokolumne earlier this year. I went and did a few runs a couple days before so I would have the lines fresh in my head to lead them down what was to be their first class IV run. Well as fate would have it on the day we went the water ended up being a little higher than even I had seen it before. (We had about 1600 cfs). We put on and had a really great run with great lines all around despite the apparent lack of eddies. When we got to the next to last rapid we got out to scout as planned. At this flow the last two bigger rapids really become one very long and sizable class IV rapid. As we’re standing on the rock looking at the biggest rapid they’ve run so far in their paddling careers one of them asks, “do you think we can do this?” This is what I told them…

Of course I think  you can do it. If I didn’t think you could do it, we wouldn’t be standing here talking about it. However, I can’t get in your boat and do it for you. You have to make your own choice here. You have to decide to run it or to walk and whichever you decide you have to live with. If you decide to run it then it is up to you and you alone to get in your boat and execute the moves or suffer the consequences. I can give you advice but in the end it is entirely up to you to do it.

They both opted to run the rapid and they both styled the shit out of it. At the time there on the rock I just said what I thought was sound advice for kayaking. It wasn’t until we were driving home later that I started to think, maybe it’s also sound advice for life. Isn’t the same true? We all have troubles and trials of our own to deal with. We seek the advice of others close to us. We seek comfort and support, but at the end of the day we each have to make our own choices for ourselves. We then must also live with the outcome of those choices. Sometimes we sail off sweet boofs, and sometimes we take gnarly hole rides and nasty swims.

 

Thanks for reading.

Pete

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