Day two started with a kayaking theory lesson – describing the strokes and edging more in-depth. Then after lunch we headed out on to the same section of river as day 1, but you’d never guess it was the same. I felt at ease in the kayak, holding myself easily in the correct posture. All of the strokes felt so much more comfortable. Consequently, the first few sets of rapids felt like a blip on the radar.
After learning more about edging – lifting one side of the kayak to basically lean into the turn – we started entering and exiting eddies at the side of the river to get in and out of the current. I was really enjoying that challenge and getting the hang of it when I got a little too confident. I caught an edge and flipped right over. I used what I had learned about how to get out and float safely, and within seconds someone was there to get me to dry land.
Standing on those rocks, waiting for my boat to drain, I felt such a rush. It felt like a weight had been lifted; now that I had “failed,” the burden of perfection was gone. There was nothing to fear.
Further down the river there was a section of rapids that we had avoided the day before by going to the left. On this day we were given a challenge by choice. We could choose if we wanted to “eat the meat” or just go around again. My group of three asked our guide what the likelihood of us flipping was and she said 80%. So, of course, we all went for it! The waves were the kind that will try to kill your momentum and hold you back. The directions were simply to take the waves head on and paddle hard through them.
Off we went! One right after the other we entered the rapids and one by one we all promptly flipped over. I made it through the first wave but the water I had taken to the face was making it hard to open my eyes without risk of losing my contacts. That distraction was enough to lose my focus and let the second wave throw me over.
As I floated upside down, head under water, I waited for someone to come help me and do an assisted rescue. That meant I would stay in my kayak and use another one to flip myself back over. I waited as long as I thought I could before just doing a wet exit on my own. When I came up my guide was right there. If I had just trusted her (and myself) and waited a few moments longer she would have helped roll me back over.
The rest of the group had a great laugh about our mishaps and many commented on how happy we all looked. We had just been demolished. How could we still be smiling?
Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Me getting tossed around and flipped over meant that I had taken a risk. If you’re not taking risks, how will you ever learn and grow? Although I didn’t get to try, I was ready to go right back and do it again. I had some experience. I knew what it felt like and what I could do differently.
When you dare to put yourself out there and be vulnerable you risk being tossed around and knocked down. It’s not the most pleasant experience while it’s happening, but by doing so you’ve earned the opportunity to rise even stronger than you were before. You get to make the best of it. You can take control and own your situation instead of letting yourself be a victim of fear or circumstance.
All of us here have been challenged, without choice, by MS. We could let it hold us back and tell us what we can and cannot do. Or, we could let ourselves be vulnerable, take risks, and choose to face it head on – powering through those waves that are trying to take us down.
#firstdescents #msawareness #tarkiomontana