Monday, July 31, 2017

Upon Further Reflection

As my regular readers may have noticed (if I have any left), I have not posted much in the past couple of years. The reason for that is simple: I haven't kayaked much. The reason for that is a little more complicated but can be summarized thusly: I have a child now. My daughter was born almost a year ago, and I am no longer a professional kayaker but a stay-at-home dad. Having a child doesn't inherently prevent one from paddling, but it does alter the choices one makes. I could kayak myself while my wife looks after our daughter, but my wife is my main paddling buddy and our daughter is too young to join us. We could get a babysitter, but then we would both be missing out on time with our child. We both choose to spend our time together as a family. It's a choice, and ultimately an easy one for me.

Most of my friends have been acquired through paddling. Everyone knows me as a kayaker. It's my identity. Many have expressed surprise, or even condolences, over my lack of kayaking. The thought of no longer kayaking seems crazy, possibly heretical, definitely depressing. How can someone whose entire life was built around a sport no longer pursue that sport? What about the livin' the dream? Again, the answer is fairly simple:

It was never about paddling

For fifteen years I worked in the kayak industry: selling them, teaching people how to use them, writing about them, playing around in them. But my dream was never about kayaking. My dream was to live a good life, be joyful, see beautiful places, soak up nature, find adventure and challenge all while surrounded by good people who cared for each other. Kayaking certainly brought me that, but it isn't the only path.

Now I get to relax (or collapse in exhaustion) in my own home at the end of a day chasing a baby around the house, I get to see the wonder of the world through new eyes, face the challenge of introducing peanut butter to an infant and figuring out how to teach her right from wrong, all surrounded by the most important people in my life who love me unconditionally and support me through all my travails. The dream is very much alive.

They say that life is about the journey and not the destination, but our choice of destination gives purpose to the journey and there are many routes to get where you want to go. If paddling brings you joy, as it does so many, then by all means pursue your passion to the fullest. But if you get the same satisfaction out of horse-riding, then canter on. Or bird-watching, or political activism, or needle-point. Whatever your choice, you will be better off if you don't confuse the activity with the outcome, the endeavor with the reward, or your own goals and aspirations with those of the people around you. I'll keep paddling, I'll post when I have something to say or show, and I hope to see others doing the same. Live your own dream and stay woke.