Saturday, August 09, 2014

Escape from "comfort" the Isle of Skye, and Gordon Brown.

Safe in Auchmithie harbour...
but needing to go further.
One of the many delightful things about living away from home is learning new expressions. Some, we've had to ask folks to repeat...and then explain! It's been fun. :) There are two expressions, however, whose meanings are perfectly clear: "Every day's a school day." and "We'll get there." Both are said with the characteristic warmth, good cheer, and optimism of the people in this country.

Every day should, indeed, be a "school day". The process of learning is one of life's richest and most meaningful activities. My dad, whose personality was always an enigmatic amalgam of the outdoors, mathematics, and philosophy, often advised his young son that "comfort" was not something to embrace in life. (He always said it rather emphatically.) That particular piece of fatherly advice made no sense to me at all! Surely comfort, after all, is a reasonable condition? Why would one strive to be uncomfortable? What he was getting at, however, was that seeking and embracing comfort can sometimes be an "end" state...namely, the end of growth and development.

My dad's advice did, eventually, begin to make some sense as I grew older. Having all the "answers", for example, clearly brings a sense of comfort to some, but it means that questions are no longer being asked. The door subsequently closes, firmly shut, to the process of learning and growing. How much more satisfying and enriching it is to "live the questions". Being satisfied with the status quo (in any context) may seem to be a comfortable niche...but that niche can become a stifling and claustrophobic place to be. When every day's a "school day", the process of discovery and exploration is set free. Life remains fresh and vibrant and stimulating. It becomes an "adventure" in the truest sense.

To be quite honest, we'd become comfortable with our paddling skills over the years. Why push the "envelope" any further? As a consequence, time in the cockpit had begun to lose a little of its sparkle and its thrill. It just didn't seem quite the same as it used to be when we were learning and growing (and, admittedly, sometimes scaring ourselves).

It was time to take serious steps - or at least paddle strokes.

Tomorrow, we leave for the Isle of Skye, in the Inner Hebrides, to spend three days with Gordon Brown, arguably, the most renown instructor and coach in the world of sea kayaking. The goal: to escape the "comfort" of the status quo - and safely open wider the doors to new paddling possibilities and opportunities.

It is clear that the coming days will be challenging. The process of learning new skills is guaranteed to be (very) humbling at times. There will, undoubtedly, be some good laughs!

Despite it all, we'll get there - right side up! ;)


  1. Your Dad sounds like he was a very wise man. I would have loved to have chatted with him.
    I can't agree with the first pic though....there is nothing "safe" looking about that water! Have a great week!
    Comfortable n safe,

  2. Thanks for that, L. He was indeed a wise man, I wish I'd realised that at a much younger age. Often the way, isn't it? The water in the pic is "frothy" but it's behind the old harbour walls - a safe spot to contemplate what's beyond. :) Warm wishes. D.

  3. ENjoy those school days with Mr Brown. I'm certain it will put the spark back in the cockpit!

  4. Right enough, Lee, the fire's burning! Best wishes and thanks. Duncan.