Monday, November 19, 2012

Beautiful Contrarians

Sooner or later someone will say to you, “Everything about learning to kayak is so counterintuitive.” For instance, to turn your kayak, you do all the work on the side opposite from the direction you wish to turn; to keep your kayak from turning over in a wave, you lean in to the wave, sometimes until you are buried by it, in order to stay upright; to roll, you keep your head in the water until the end. At first these things feel completely, dangerously unnatural. Why? Because they are unnatural-- at least to our land brains.

Maybe, like me, after you've kayaked a bit, you’ll begin to discover that your land intuition isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and that by learning to kayak, your brain becomes engaged in the entire world differently, all the time, not just when you're on the water. Perhaps when you are wanting to steer a situation the way you would steer a car, you think: no, this situation requires my kayak brain, and to steer this situation, I must work on the opposite side, even though it is counterintuitive.  Perhaps someone pushes you around and you think it’s time to hide, but you learn to lean in hard against whatever’s coming at you in order to stay upright. 

Or maybe you find yourself suddenly upside down and submerged and wanting to panic, but kayaking has taught you that you’re fine, you can hang out a while without worry or panic, only to roll back up, and keep paddling forward.

Kayaking may be counterintuitive, but the lessons transfer well to the non kayaking side of life too. 


  1. Thanks for posting, I agree - what I have learned in kayaking has transferred to other areas. As a sometimes weenie, I have learned that some unease will not kill me and I can push through that and find that I am having fun. It's incremental but worth it.


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