dol·drums: calms, sudden storms, and light unpredictable winds.

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I’m having some summer blues. I don’t know if it is because I was stuck inside for so long because of my leg or I’m working on some things that I don’t particularly want to be working on.

I know I haven’t had enough time on the water.

I’m mad at myself for wasting time doing things other than being on the water.

If I were sailing, I guess I’d be in the doldrums.

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I love prone paddling. While I’m doing it, it isn’t particularly hard, but when I’m finished I feel like I’ve been run over by a truck. Not immediately. More like two hours later. And then it’s hard to work. It’s a cycle.

I paddle to get over my stress, but then I’m so tired that it all comes right back.

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Last weekend there were two races that got a lot of headlines. I cried thinking about both of them, from looking at the pictures. There were kids meeting their heroes and kids paddling the channel of bones. There were traditions and there were snubs. Wherever you looked, there was sportsmanship in the face of extreme challenges: weather, dignity, personal demons.

There’s a lot of chatter this week and sometimes chatter undoes me.

“Should we do this? Or this?”

“What does it pay?”

“Why did you do that?”

“They have nothing to prove.”

“They have everything to prove.”

“What are you doing it that way? And not this way?”

“Why did you leave me out?”

“Why did you leave them out?”

“Did you do that on purpose?”

“I want.” “I want.” “I want.”

“They’re making stupid choices.”

And I read it all and I understand why my friend fled the scene and left everything behind to surf empty waves in an undisclosed location.

And I understand why Kim sounded so much better than she has in, maybe, a year, after two days on the Yukon river with nobody in sight but Ben and maybe some bears and a moose.

And it all makes me think a lot about my talk with Troy from Monster & Sea a couple of weeks ago. “Go because you can, because when you can’t, you’re not thinking about winning, you’re thinking about doing and nothing more.”

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I’m walking Kim’s dogs some and visiting her parents. I compile weather reports and wait for them to call and I’m sad if they don’t but happy they don’t need to.

What happens when they finish their Yukon 1000 paddle? The race website says to “pat yourself on the back for a job well done.” And they might get a finisher medal or a certificate.

Is that better than an award ceremony and a podium? Nah. Whatever floats your boat.

But I hope you paddle because you want to, or to prove something to yourself and not to prove something to everyone else.

There will be a crush of chatter when they get off the river. An overwhelming crush. Because so many people are sitting at their desks watching the spot trackers and wishing they could be there along with them or at the finish to give them hugs.

And I wonder what will happen. Because what we’ve watched and what they’ve done are two different things.

If there’s one thing I love about being on the water it’s the space. To think, to dream, to hurt.

It’s the land part I’m not always so good at.

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Paddle because you can.

Paddle because you have to. Don’t have to because you’re winning money or you have to keep your sponsors happy.

Paddle because you have to because it’s in your blood.

Paddle because if you don’t, you can’t feel the saltwater coursing through your veins.

Paddle because we are all made of water.

Paddle because you can go places on a board that you can’t go any other way.

Paddle because it’s the only thing that will get you up at 5am after you go to bed at midnight.

Paddle because there’s nothing more breathtaking than gliding through the water with dolphins and sea turtles and stingrays.

Paddle because you get sick if your sinuses don’t get cleaned out often enough by the rush of saltwater up your nose after a rough tumble.

Paddle because you need Vitamin D.

Paddle with your hands or your double bladed paddle or your short single paddle or your long single paddle.

Paddle in the waves, in the flats, on the rivers, in the rapids.

Paddle into the wind.

Paddle with the wind at your back.

Paddle into things that scare you.

Paddle with friends.

Paddle in new places.

Paddle the old familiar routes.

Paddle alone with your thoughts.

Paddle when you’re too busy to paddle.

Paddle in the rain and the sun and the fog.

Paddle toward something.

Paddle away from something.

Paddle and when you’re tired, float.

Paddle to challenge yourself.

Paddle to challenge others.

Paddle to save your life.

Paddle to build a new life.

Just paddle.