Saturday, January 31, 2009

Winter Ennui

The cold coupled with the weekend storms multiplied by outside commitments is leaching strength from my core. The result is a feeling of basic blah. Finding the motivation to excercise is work. Even feeling guilty about the creeping weight gain brought about by sloth is hard.
The good thing is that this is just the common winter condition. Soon the days will get longer and warmer. The opportunities for getting the kayak on the water or getting the bike on the road will become regular.
I suppose the winter malaise could be avoided by moving to a warmer climate. Perversely I kind of like the few weeks of blah. It is a nice reminder of the joy. It makes Spring, Summer, and Fall better. Without the blah, the fun would become common.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Goals for 09

Instead of making resolutions that I would already feel guilty about not keeping I resolved to make goals for the year instead. Goals give me things to work on improving but create less suffering. They are long term and don't require absolute fidelity. I strive to achieve them instead of giving up (and feeling bad about it) the first time I break the resolution.
My kayaking goals for the coming year are pretty modest. I want to develop a reliable toward finishing role, take at least one advanced training course, paddle once a week (practice for a few hours at Walden Pond counts), and do at least one really advanced (level 5+) trip. I'd also like to simply become more fluid, but that is an ongoing challenge. It is also too nebulous to be a goal.
Along with my paddling goals, I also have some other activity related goals. I want to lose 15 pounds and keep it off. I also want cycle to work three times a week during the months between May and October. To get fit enough to cycle to work I want to use my cycle trainer at least three times a week until May.
I'm not what anyone considers "career oriented", so my work goals are simple: stay employed and produce quality content.
On the relationship front I don't have any specific goals. I do want to continue growing as a good partner to H. Since it is hard to predict the path that a marriage takes I don't think I can accurately say that what "growing" means.
I would also like to stay in touch with old friends, but I know myself well enough to know I'm unlikely to succeed. I'm more of an in the moment sort of person. Life moves too fast for me to always be looking back. Hopefully, Facebook can help out with this goal. Automation is a great thing.
One more goal: get better organized with all of the things I need to do. There were too many times this past year when I had so many things to do that I couldn't even find a starting point. There were also too many things that fell through the cracks because I simply forgot about them.
That is more than enough goals. Any more and I forget them...

Friday, January 09, 2009

Best Paddle of 2008

It is impossible to pick a definitive "best paddle" for a given year. Each one is a different experience and it is rare that I don't enjoy being on the water. However, there are a few that standout.
I think the effort to pick one paddle out of the mix is worthwhile. It helps me identify what I find most enjoyable when paddling. In the heat of the moment I'm likely to think that surfing or rolling or spotting wildlife is "the" thing I want most out of paddling. When blogging about a paddle a few hours, or a few days, after returning to dry land, I'm still likely to miss the forest for the trees. Some little thing like the traffic getting to and from the beach or a single highly charged incident on the water is still distorting the picture.
To pick one paddle from the bunch I review all the trips in order. Reading each blog conjures a richer experience than the words on the page. My memory fills in the gaps with images and emotions. There are times when I want to rewrite the blog entry to match my recreated experience of a paddle. Patterns begin to emerge as well. The little annoyances melt away. Threads between experiences emerge. The adrenaline rush of surfing becomes a recollection of spending a lot of time and effort for a few short rides. An interminable slog becomes the small price paid to explore an awesome coastline or play in interesting rock clumps. The short lunch on the beach becomes valuable time with friends and interesting conversations.
So what is my favorite paddle of the year? The Canadian trip was spectacular and, as a whole, was probably my favorite kayaking experience of the year. However, none of the individual paddles stood out. The Rough Water symposium was a highlight because it was a challenging learning experience. However, it was lacking a number of my paddling pals. The rock gardening with Greg Paquin was also a challenging learning experience.
The two paddles that really stuck out for me this year were the winter paddle in Boston Harbor and the mid-week paddle at the Westport River. The Boston Harbor paddle was simply a good day. The weather was nice, we didn't push too hard, and the conversations were interesting. It was a great start to the year. The Westport River paddle was a full day. There was bad traffic, a bit of slogging, a wrecked kayak, and some excellent current paddling.
Of the two the Westport paddle wins by a hair.
I like the relaxing aspects of kayaking, but I also like the challenge of paddling. Perhaps the two are different edges of the same sword. I like to say that kayaking is my Zen. One part is calm reflection and the other is learning to hold the calm center in a tumult.