This morning I went with my friend to the lake to try out his new whitewater kayak.  We wanted to try it in a more controlled environment before attempting the river.  It was very deja vu-ish since we did the same thing when he got a flatwater yak.  He was the first to get a yak and we tried it at the same spot on the lake

A whitewater kayak handles differently than a recreational kayak.  It moves with your body.  you literally ratchet yourself into the cockpit and get a tight fit so that your knees are against the sides of the hull.  When you turn your hips, the kayak turns.  With a rec kayak, you sometimes paddle backwards to steer, but with a WW yak it is always forward. So steering can be troublesome at first because you want to do it all with the paddle, but you must make subtle hip adjustments or be able to completely keep your back straight.

Liquid Logic Remix XP9 (The kayak I want)
Liquid Logic Remix XP9 (The kayak I want)

He tried it first and just kept close ot the shore.  When I got in, I had to tighten it, so I don’t think he was in as much as he should have been.  I made a tight fit and after getting used to it with a few paddles and turns, I picked a spot on the other shore and started paddling.  When I thought about the paddling or my waist, then I spun around.  When I kept my concentration on the tree on the other shore, I tracked straight for it.  When my mind drifted or I started to think about the movements I needed to make then I spun around.  I tried to correct, but it was like once that concentration was lost, I was better to go with the flow and let things reset.  Spin around and pick the spot again and go for it with my whole intention.

«Sumeru» by Nick Pedersen
«Sumeru» by Nick Pedersen

So I have found kayaking to be very zen.  Lessons here apply to other areas in our life.  Every moment is a teaching moment and if in a moment we feel that we have messed up then we can spin around and reset our intentions and concentration.  We can pick up and achieve our goal.  And what will be remembered?  The faltering, the mistakes?  Maybe.  They did help us get to where we are, but the thing that should be treasured is the actual achievement of the goal.  The middle stuff is all whibbly wobbly timey whimy stuff.  The illusion of doing something in a dream.

It doesn’t matter what you do.  It doesn’t matter what choice you make.  What matters is that you do it with full intention, concentration and right mind.  I guess what I am saying is that maybe there is something to the eightfold path.

A handy mnemonic to remember the eigthfold path:

Until Thoughts Stop Acting Like Excited Monkeys, Confusion

  • Right Understanding
  • Right Thoughts
  • Right Speech
  • Right Action
  • Right Livelihood
  • Right Effort
  • Right Mindfulness
  • Right Concentration

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