Sunday, July 25, 2010

The nature of "patient" paddling...chillin' on a warm summer day.

Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Last time we were out paddling, we had to do a little waiting. Not having a schedule with us and a little unsure of when the ferry from Gabriola to Nanaimo was due to leave, we didn't want to risk: A) Becoming a Kevlar "speed bump" (not likely); B) Causing the ferry to blow its horn as a warning (extremely embarrassing given that it would bring attention to poor judgement.); or, C) Causing the ferry to delay its departure which could impact its schedule for hours and cause certain passengers to unnecessarily experience elevated blood pressure. We, therefore, did the proper and responsible thing - we patiently waited until the vessel exited the harbour. It wasn't a big deal, of course, given that the "waiting room" was a little piece of marine paradise.

I must confess that I'm not a particularly patient person and waiting is something that I do very badly. Joan, on the other hand, is infinitely patient. If patience is "an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay", she's good. While my dear spouse takes absolutely everything in stride, I cannot cope with waiting in the supermarket or in stores and so rarely put myself in that position. Quite frankly, I would rather sit in a hot car in the parking lot and count sea gulls. I could never line up for a movie or a concert or a restaurant seat so, as a consequence, we don't get out much for entertainment, cultural, or culinary events - at least, not the popular ones. As for Boxing Day sales or any other such "12-hour-only shopping extravaganzas", well, I guess I'll just have to find a way to live without all of the "once-in-a-lifetime-deeply-discounted-stuff" I'm missing out on. Dang, that Nikon, with interchangeable lenses, tripod and deluxe spotting scope included, did look good!

Having said all this, however, I have discovered that when stopped at a traffic light or when waiting to board a late ferry, or when in bumper to bumper traffic (as we were on the I-5, south of Portland last week), there are alternatives to feeling annoyed. Focusing on your breath - breathing in...1,2,3...breathing out...1,2,3 works every time. It seems, when I do that, the red light turns green all too soon! Reflecting on and allowing visual images of those for whom we are thankful also calms and steadies the stream of impatient thoughts. Acknowledging with appreciation, the fact that we are alive and able to come and go with freedom and choice, transforms a long ferry wait into a opportunity for valuable concurrent activity whether it's leafing through a magazine or taking time to breath in the invigorating sea air. Patience changes perspective..for the good.

When paddling on the ocean, the impatient sea kayaker, not unlike the impatient driver, is a kayaker at risk. Weather, sea state, marine traffic, exhaustion, can be very unforgiving. When learning a new skill, whether it be improving a paddling stroke or a roll, transitioning to running barefoot, learning to successfully navigate by a map and compass, learning to play a musical instrument or whatever, it's the "ability or willingness to suppress...annoyance when confronted by delay". Achievement in life, in any sport, activity, or avocation often depends on "gradual progress". It's the acceptance of gradual progress that minimizes the time-wasting injuries that impacts our training. Patience is an essential ingredient of gradual progress. It just makes plain good sense and it keeps us alive on the water to paddle another day.

Patience is a good thing. Heck, chillin' can be a virtue...of heroic proportions.

Gotta run! Breathe in...1,2,3...breathe out...1,2,3...


PS For those who have been kindly asking, Joan's broken toe (see earlier posting) is coming along, but not quite ready to hit the trails yet. So yeah, running solo for a bit yet. I know, I know...patience. :-)


  1. Hmmm interesting subject for you to write about...especially on this holiday, seeing patience is pretty much a neccesity.
    Something I need to remember as I train to be able to run like the pair of you.

  2. Interesting topic. Remember, impatient people generally get ulcers and have heart attacks as annoyance of being kept back just burn those juices in the system. I find singing helps me pass the time instead of getting upset and annoyed at delays. Even if I am singing to myself and not uttering a word.

  3. Running solo? Poor thing. ;-)


  4. Hey Anon, J, and Gen...thanks for dropping by, always good to hear from you. Patiently yours, D. :-)