On Friday, we decided to put the kayaks in the lake at the Joseph H. Stewart State Park. This usually relaxing recreational activity did not start off well for me. In addition to the especially long haul of the kayaks from the truck to the shore, I had issues getting my spray skirt to attach to the kayak. After an embarrassingly long struggle with the skirt, I was ready to start paddling. Only a few seconds into the paddling, I knew I would need my rudder as the water was really choppy and had its own journey mapped out for me, one quite different from the path I preferred. Unfortunately, I quickly discovered that my rudder was not adjusted properly and as a result, I had no pedals at my feet and no way of adjusting it at that moment. The waves were crashing over me, water was pouring into the kayak since my skirt was, indeed, not attached properly, I was being forced over onto a rocky ledge and overcome by the water. Sounds terrifying, doesn’t it? To tackle this situation, I did what any emotional, irrational human being would do: I shed a tear…or six or seven…and my voice took on this incredibly loud shrieky sound likely heard by all of Oregon and maybe even parts of Washington.
Meanwhile, paddling happily off into the distance was my naturally athletic, confident, kayaking husband. Upon hearing my shrilling wail from the rocky ledge, he turned and gracefully paddled back to me with that look of, “seriously…you can’t do this?” I explained in a not so rational way (think tears and shrieky voice) that my rudder was stuck on the rocks, I couldn’t reach the pedals, I was going to flip over, hit my head on the rocks and die a tragic death here at the peaceful Lost Creek Reservoir. In my time of need, I waited for the sympathetic and wise words of Chris, who in a very calm manner said, “Paddle harder.” “Paddle harder?” This was it?!? I am going to die and this is what he has to say! He flipped my rudder up so it wouldn’t get caught on the rocks and off I paddled. I paddled like I had never paddled before, bravely facing each wave and daring them to push me around. I was not paddling harder because Chris instructed me to, I was paddling harder because I was angry…angry that those were the only words he could come up with at that moment. (In retrospect, I realize that my anger and panic was unnecessary and unfounded…so please, no lectures.)
We finally made it to calmer waters and I offered a somewhat sincere apology (Chris would say this is a huge exaggeration). The kayaking trip ended up being quite relaxing. We had a nice, but cold, swim in the beautiful clear waters of a secluded cove on the other side of the lake. We paddled along the shore with the wind in our favor and we took time to sit and enjoy the amazing scenery around us. On our way back to our launching site, we faced, once again, the powerful waves. I had taken the time in calmer waters to adjust my rudder, properly attach my skirt, and I was ready to paddle harder, not out of anger, but because that is what I had to do to make it back to shore. I confess that panicking, crying, and giving up in tough situations is usually my first response. While Chris’ words angered me, he was saying exactly what I needed to hear. I need to remember that in tough situations, you have to paddle harder in order to reach the calmer waters.
[As a result of my writing this entry, Chris will now remind me on a daily basis of his wise words and the fact that he was right. Please think of me as I deal with this.]