Seeing the World From The Water: Meditations on Kayaking

 
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“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust

One of the more inspiring reasons to get on the water is, simply stated, to change perspective.  Time moves differently.  Light behaves in new ways. Water is a different medium and there is something both liberating and relaxing about it.  I often sigh as soon as I push away from shore.  It’s easy to let logistics rule life.  I feel it even as I am preparing for an extended trip or just getting ready to paddle to work. Lists are running through my head of things to bring, responsibilities to tend to and phone calls to make.

When I feel my body no longer supported by my own legs but cradled in the cockpit of my kayak, gently bobbing, I can’t help but feel what effect that shift in medium has on my whole being. First comes the sigh.  The letting go of all that’s on shore.  Can’t make phone calls now.  I’m on the water and my phone is safely tucked in a dry bag in my hatch or, more ideally, left at home.  It’s hard not to relax when surrounded by a medium that is defined by Webster as “flowing freely”.

What generally follows the post-launch sigh is a feeling of glee combined with enthusiasm.  That’s usually when I take off paddling in an unpremeditated direction.  Then I pause, consider which route I’ll take, and eventually find my stride. The rhythmic dance of a paddle dipping on either side of the vessel creates little eddies of water and light.  Soon I forget my upper body is even moving.  The craft is in motion and I feel quieted by my surroundings.  The irony of slowing down while in motion does not escape my thoughts. My body is active and therefore appeased while my mind can relax and contemplate my surroundings.  Reflections of trees or clouds on the surface of water and other details that might go unnoticed on land, where the mind is usually so busy and the body is waiting to be used, suddenly stand out.  I’m sure some people experience the inverse of that equation, and perhaps kayaking means something different for them.  But one thing I hear consistently from many paddlers is that time moves differently on the water.  I personally find I’m not as obsessed with time efficiency and attempting to squeeze it all in.  I can only go as fast as my upper body will take me.  Hours can escape without my knowing.

It’s usually at this point in my philosophical reveries that a surfacing porpoise breaks my meditative state.  I’m reminded that the world underneath me is alive and my perspective is shifted yet again.  I love that about paddling; the way it shifts my view of the world.  Physically, one has to surrender balance to the flow of water.  It’s not concrete and requires subtle shifts and adjustments, resulting in a kind of dynamic fluidity.  It also puts your perspective right at the surface, bridging two worlds – the underwater world and the dry world above. Traveling along this transitional line is an exciting path. Seals peak up, curious what’s happening above.  I look down, perplexed by all that’s happening below.  When I’m paddling, even in familiar places, I can’t help but feel like I’m experiencing the world with fresh eyes.


By Laura Prendergast
(
Pygmy Boats Marketing Director & Fan)
When not in the office Laura enjoys being outside.

 

 

 



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