Thursday, November 28, 2013

Process and Persistence

Life is one long process of getting tired. Samuel Butler.

When I first starting trying to learn to eskimo roll my sea kayak, I saw the whole thing as a relatively brief journey (at least I hoped it would be brief) to a fixed end point. Sure, I would occasionally roll once or twice every few weeks to keep my hand in, but basically, I'd get this bomb-proof roll and I'd be done. Box for eskimo roll checked, time to move on.

More and more, I've realized that, at least for me, learning to eskimo roll is a process, and a long one at that. Mentally, this never ending journey is taxing as no practice session ever ends with any sense of completeness. If I have a good day and get a bunch of rolls I am fearful that I will fail next time. If I have a bad day, and don't get any rolls, I fret endlessly over what I did wrong, how I can correct my errors, and when I can get out and try again.

 Doug performing a fish rescue after my unsuccessful rolling mission

As you have probably guessed by now, after executing a series of successful rolls last Sunday, I didn't get a single roll today. What changed? I'm not sure. I definitely felt all crunched up and tight, and as soon as I set up and started the sweep I could see that I had a problem as my paddle blade kept diving under the water. But, try as I might, I could not get the paddle blade to stay on the surface. Something in my mechanics was all wrong, but what?

After about a dozen failed attempts I quit for the day. Quitting for me is harder than continuing to try, but, I have learnt that there is nothing to be gained, and much to be lost, by grooving in the wrong movement patterns. In hindsight, I think I should have quit after two unsuccessful rolls, instead of persisting for another ten. But, if there is one thing I have in my favour on this long and seemingly endless journey, it is the ability to persist. 

Paddling back from Double Island

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