Saturday, September 11, 2010

paddling: ...we can change...

... our lives.

(this is part paddling and part introspection. mostly the latter. you have been warned)

Our Men's Na Pali Crew*
(paddling on Lake Sammamish in early August)

A good friend who not only has a gorgeous daughter (and wife), but is also a world-class athlete recently asked me if the Na Pali Challenge paddle was a "life changing" experience for me. I don't think he expected any particular answer, meaning that I don't think he anticipated that it would necessarily change my life, but he was curious, looking for information about the paddle and my reactions to it.

I thought for a moment and then said I didn't think I'd call it life changing. It was fun, it was challenging, it was satisfying, but life changing? Probably not. And I don't think I expected it to be.

But I liked that he'd asked the question, and it got me thinking. And anything that gets me thinking is good.

For instance, I'm thinking that I don't believe any of my paddling has been particularly life changing, at least to this point.

I suppose it partly depends on how you define "life changing." If by that you mean, has my day-to-day life changed as a result, well, yes, I'm spending 6-9 hours a week doing heavy exercise, crawling into bed 2 nights a week with a body so exhausted by workouts that I can barely pull my legs in after me. So in those senses, paddling has changed my life.

But do I have a different outlook on life now that I'm paddling? Or now that I've done a long paddle in Hawaii? I don't believe so. I feel like I have a tiny bit more understanding of water conditions there, and that this bit of information will help me the next time I go. But about paddling I'd say it feels more like a natural extension of who and what I am and have been for years. It fits me like something I have loved in the past and will do in the future. (I hadn't really done any paddling before the summer of 2009.)

I can imagine that there are some paddling experiences out there that would feel like life changers for me. Perhaps doing the Molokai Channel solo. Or even as a relay with someone else. Or maybe not. Paddling feels right to me, it feels like home in some ways that other physical exercise hasn't (biking, for example, is something I've done and enjoyed, but not the way I enjoy being on the water**).

Some life changing experiences: going to college on the mainland, getting married, getting divorced, living alone, getting married, becoming a parent, losing a parent....

I wonder, what life changing experiences have you had? What constitutes a life changing experience, and are any of them related to exercise?

*taken by Mark McDermott of Wakinikona, and used here without permission.

**Interestingly, my sister and her two kids have all begun rowing this past summer, so there are more of us getting out on the water and being physical. I won't necessarily extrapolate any particular conclusion from that fact.

No comments: