In praise of kayaking


I’ve never been a big fan of the kind of blog that glorifies sport. Some writers imbue sport with a sort of mysticism, as if a set of man-made rules could somehow be a microcosm for the entirety of human experience. There are those writers too who rely all too heavily on the sports metaphor. This type of writing most certainly has its place in the world of belle-lettres, I find it to be too clumsy and formulaic for my taste.

But I most certainly do not reject the power of sport on the individual or the community. It does have the power to heal and bring people together in times of tumult and loss and for the individual offers opportunity for personal growth and self-discovery. Across the world sport is used as a way of bringing communities together and empowering the youth, like in this Kenyan town. In this regard, and in the manner in which most sports evolved directly or indirectly from skills our ancient ancestors held in esteem, sport is without doubt part of the human experience.

If you’ll forgive me, in this article, I’d like to share a little bit about my personal experiences in the world of kayaking. I was a latecomer to the sport, having always been somewhat ambivalent about bodies of water.

After my first kayak trip at the insistence of a good friend in Lake Champlain as cliche as it may sound, I was hugely impressed. There was a certain quiet and stillness to being out on the water that won me over. I was familiar with that reflective, quiet joy from hiking and being in nature, but out on a lake it felt amplified.

I stop short of claiming that I was allowed some rare glimpse in the inner workings of the universe as a result of kayaking and I don’t pretend that in this moment of a bit of exercise on a casual afternoon that I had an epiphany about my life and nothing has ever been the same again.

What I can say with confidence is that I did feel something difficult to describe when I was paddling. It was akin to a perfectly clear mind. My friend and I were talking and I was taking in the beauty of the surrounding area but above all I felt perfectly calm and at peace. Again, I don’t wish to sound like a cliché but as cliché as it could sound, I suppose clichés do exist for a reason.

It doesn’t matter much what the sport—or non-sportive hobby—is, but it can be said that doing something that one loves, even if that one doesn’t know they love it until they try it—can bring about a tremendous presence (or absence perhaps) of mind that is both refreshing and rejuvenating. For my money it’s all about kayaking, and I have become a devotee and ardent converter. If you’ve not yet tried it, make sure to include it on your bucket list

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