Be Afraid

After my last few days, a friend of mine asked if I wanted to go kayaking. Kayaking? You bet! And within an hour, I was rushing to her house for our adventure.

Kayaking is something I’ve always wanted to do but have never done. Sure I’ve paddle boated, canoed, and swam in lakes before so kayaking didn’t seem all that difficult. You just get in a boat and paddle, right? Plus I loved swimming so if I did happen to fall over, I could handle it.

I put on my life jacket and carried the kayak down the hill to the docking area. The hill was pretty steep and the kayak was awkward but I got it in the water, got in, and shoved myself out into the lake. But I immediately noticed 2 things: 1) staying centered and balanced on the kayak was harder than it looked and 2) I had no idea what I was doing.

My friend was rather skilled at this whole thing. On the other hand, I was getting water in my kayak from my paddles, my shorts were all wet, and I couldn’t keep up with her. I got tired easily too. But I was having fun and getting out of my house was what I really needed. The lake was beautiful so I decided not to complain or be annoyed at my lack of skill.

At some point, I realized this kayak business was kind of tricky. Mostly because the lake had boats and the waves had a mind of their own. When a wave would come my way, I’d stop paddling and sit still. If I moved at all, I noticed my kayak start to tip.

My friend suggested we stay closer to the shoreline so the boats didn’t hit us. So we were traveling back after venturing to the end of the lake, about 45 minutes one way. Two jet skis passed back and forth. I was trying to avoid hitting my friend and tipping her over when it happened.

I fell out of my kayak.

At first it was funny. But then I realized that I needed to get back in my kayak but it was filling up with water. I mustered all my upper body strength and tried to swim with it. If I didn’t have a life jacket, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have been able to swim with the waterlogged kayak. I tried heading towards the shore but the water was deep. I tried not to think about the green stuff floating around or the green algae and what was possibly living in there.

My friend took my paddle so I had one less thing to worry about and made it to shore. I kept going. I finally was able to feel the ground, which felt like a mushy poopy diaper. Oh and my shoes were in the kayak floating around. I was trying not to lose those too.

I did panic a bit because I felt like I might drown. Not feeling the bottom of the lake was pretty scary. I also had to hold on to a very heavy kayak and so that felt like it was pulling me down too. And the entire time, the two jetski people didn’t stop to help or just stop making waves so I felt anxious and scared. When I got to the shore, I dropped down on the sand. I was so shaky.

I settled down and my friend told me I was a good sport. She couldn’t tell I was anxious at all. I was joking about it mostly to ease my anxiety so maybe that’s why.

I managed to get back in the kayak after dumping the water out and spent another half hour trying to paddle cautiously back to where we came. The waves from boats still hit my kayak, but I tried to be as balanced as I could.

We got out and loaded the kayaks back in the van and headed home. I was joking around about mushy algae, fish eating my toes, and lake amoeba. My friend was nearly crying from laughing so hard. She kept apologizing and I would make another funny comment and we’d laugh even harder.

The thing is I would do it again. Sure it’s scary to flip over in deep water, but sometimes a little adrenaline is a good thing.

Lately I have been telling my husband how when you are our age, there is a lull. You find your routine. All the exciting life milestones like marriage and kids come and go. Then you feel either bored with life or stressed out by it. It isn’t often you feel the blood pumping, nature in your face, and laughing until you cry. Mostly, you set into your normal and become apathetic and indifferent. Every day feels the same after awhile.

At least it has for me.

So falling out of a kayak and being faced with fear was a good thing. For once, I felt alive to the world. And knowing that people worried about me and kept saying “I’m glad you are OK!” made me feel like I wasn’t just existing.

Sometimes it’s good to do things that scare you. It might just save your life.