The Inland Paddler: Let’s not Lose our Aloha

Trying to Share the Stoke In the Time of Corona

Last Saturday, I got up early and headed out to Lake Jordan, one of the watershed water supply lakes just southeast of Chapel Hill, NC and southwest of Raleigh. Since it was the weekend, I knew there would be more people out and while I didn’t make it to the boat launch as early as I would have liked, and while there was a considerable number of other paddlers there, we were all able to socially distance just fine. I wore my mask as I rigged the outrigger and got ready to hit the water. I was the only one but  it was amiable. No agro. Everyone smiled. From more than six feet away, a woman paddling an inflatable kayak asked me about the OC – she wanted to know how heavy it was. I told her, she was surprised and we parted with me saying it is a lot of fun to paddle.

My workout was fine – save the guy in the ski boat who was being nice and respectful by slowing down and passing me at a snails pace, so as not to kick up a wake, but close enough where I could have easily surfed it had he been going just a little faster.  Missed opportunity!! 

When I came back in, the parking lot was starting to fill.  I pulled up my mask, broke down my canoe and loaded up for the drive home, working fast so as not to linger.  I felt a little…silly I guess… when I realized again I was the only one wearing a mask.  We were all still able to stay way apart from each other. We were outside. Okay. Not a big deal.  

About that time, a kayaker walked passed me and I said hello. She looked around like she didn’t know where the greeting had come from.  Another paddler walking socially distant on the other side of the women in the opposite direction pointed at me. The woman turned, looked at me with my mask – she was wearing one too – and waved me away, as if I was a horsefly.  The other paddler shrugged her shoulders and I wondered aloud, “What the hell is wrong with everyone these days?”

It bothered me all the way home. It had an impact on the usually great feeling I have when I have just come off the water.

And before anyone jumps to conclusions – this is not about whether someone chooses or not to wear a facemask outside in an open environment.  Remember, this woman and I were both wearing them. It is about how we seem to be treating each other during this pandemic.  It is something I have noticed walking around my own neighborhood. It’s something I have noticed that actually started long before this pandemic but now seems to be more the norm everywhere. General rudeness. Maybe it is just a few people acting this way, and that makes it stick out and seem more obvious. Maybe we are all on edge these days. Regardless, it is a heavy feeling.

And it really gets to me when it seems to be infiltrating into the one community, the one environment that has always been a refuge.

I think most of us would agree that one of the reasons we were attracted to this community of paddlers – sup, prone, outrigger, etc – is because of the spirit of community.  The comeraderie of everyone at races.  The support.  The encouragement.  As our sport has grown, some of that has perhaps lessened a bit, but it is still there at its core.   It is why races like Chattajack are so successful. 

We love sharing the stoke.  We love helping people get into the sport and stay in it.  We love the shared experiences. We love training together.  We love hanging out together.  Off the chart egos are few and far between.  Pros and Joes and Janes can find common ground for a great conversation over a beer after a race. They can become good friends.

The people I have met through paddling are my family – my ohana. If you are reading this, no doubt you share the same experience and feeling.

Our sport is welcoming like no other.  

When I retold my story of the woman at the lake to one of my oldest and dearest friends, she reminded me that whatever the reason for the kayaker to shoo me away, it had nothing to do with me.  She reminded me that we have no idea what the stranger at the boat ramp, or the stranger at the Target or the stranger in the grocery store parking has going on with them right now.  We are all on edge.  We all want things to be normal again. We all have good days and we all have days that are crap.

We are all doing the best we can right now.

So, I want to say thank you to that woman at the boat launch for reminding me that I too need to be more compassionate and understanding.  Okay, yes I was trying to be Pono (the Hawaiian term for right, or just) in reaching out, but my response to being waved away was not. Next time, I will just smile (as best I can with a mask on) and say “have a good morning!” In as non-sarcastic a way as I can.  Or maybe I’ll just throw a Shaka and go about my own business. 

Perhaps  next time I will silently say to the stranger the great Hawaiian Ho’oponopono mantra: “I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you.” At the very least, I know that will help me calm down and not take things the wrong way.

As paddlers, we need to keep spreading the stoke and keep our spirit of aloha alive and strong.  Pandemic or not.  And not just within our own community, but everywhere, in all facets of our lives. We need that right now. Our world needs that right now. 

Lisa
Lisa is managing editor of PaddleMonster.com and is an avid paddler of all the things - including sup, SurfSki, outrigger canoe and prone, though she especially enjoys paddle surfing and downwinding. She is a former journalist with more than 30 years experience in print and broadcast journalism and in government communications. She is a six-time Chattajack finisher, racing both sup and OC2. When not paddling, she is an outdoor instructor.

Popular

NEW

Chattajack Zoom Series

Paddle Monster Zoom Series Welcome to the Chattajack Zoom series, a four-part Zoom experience in which the Paddle Monster Coaches and special guests hold a discussion on important, Chattjack prep topics. If you want to truly be prepared, include these Zoom sessions as...

Coach Victoria on Post-Covid Fitness

Paddle Monster Fitness and Nutrition Coach Victoria Burgess shares a presentation she put together recently on returning to training after a “pandemic time out.”  Excellent info here!   youtubeembedcode en Casino utan licens youtubeembedcode es Casino utan licens    

Chattajack Race Prep: Rookie Mistakes

Final Countdown to Chattajack So, we are a little less than two months away from Chattajack time - Delta variant notwithstanding (fingers crossed!) And first-timers might be starting to get a little antsy right about now.  I know I was leading up...

Inland Paddler: Out of the Line Up Because of “Injury”

Off the Water Because of Injury “What did you do to your knee? You fall of your skateboard?” “Did you hurt your knee surfing?” People always assume that an outdoor athlete’s chosen sport must always be the mode of injury when one of us...

But What About the Critters? Paddling and Animal Encounters

But What About the Critters When Paddling? Every now and then we see posts on social media from new or prospective paddlers who worry about animals they may encounter in the water. Both the fresh and salt water varieties.   For some...

More from author

NEW

Chattajack Zoom Series

Paddle Monster Zoom Series Welcome to the Chattajack Zoom series, a four-part Zoom experience in which the Paddle Monster Coaches and special guests hold a...

Coach Victoria on Post-Covid Fitness

Paddle Monster Fitness and Nutrition Coach Victoria Burgess shares a presentation she put together recently on returning to training after a “pandemic time out.”...

Chattajack Race Prep: Rookie Mistakes

Final Countdown to Chattajack So, we are a little less than two months away from Chattajack time - Delta variant notwithstanding (fingers crossed!) And first-timers...

Inland Paddler: Out of the Line Up Because of “Injury”

Off the Water Because of Injury “What did you do to your knee? You fall of your skateboard?” “Did you hurt your knee surfing?” People always assume...
en English
X
Your Cart