I'm in a kayak. I'm not really sure exactly how this reference started, but it caught on some months ago with the climbing crew--especially the girls--I hang with. I'm sure that our Monday night pub excursions (complete with doorjamp pullup contests/initiations) definitely helped it along, as they became a place for us to defrag after a climbing session and as we learned to let our guards down with each other we learned to make light of our respective relationship statuses. We came up with an elaborate framework of boat-related references to describe all means of relationship status that still holds water (er, pardon the bad pun) to this day. A kayak, by our definition, indicates that the individual is happily single and on the prowl, but not for a significant other...but for adventure. And so I happily reside in my kayak these days.
In fact, I'd say I'm pretty darn happy most days. Which is why an occasional down day or series of down days can catch me by surprise and send me thinking. I'm more often inexorably happy than not. When I'm not...why is that?
Well, there's the idea that every action has an equal and opposite reaction...or something like that. Which means that when I am up in the stratosphere, excited as all-get-out, there is usually an equal and opposite downturn within a few days that sends me reeling and scrambling to self-medicate with more climbing and probably way too much coffee, and even sometimes solitude.
I've been pursuing all of these things in the last several months that I enjoy very much. I have been able to focus a lot of energy on climbing harder and better and learning to skydive, and I love having the mental and emotional freedom to do those things. It would be hard for me (I say for me, because others might find it easier than I do) to hasten after these pursuits were I not in my kayak, so to speak. And so, I'd venture to say that I've had the opportunity to learn a lot about myself lately.
I learned to say no. I've never been good at saying no, and now the conflict lies not in my ability to say it, but in my ability to not be agitated when I decide to say it. It took me having the opportunity to chase after goals that were uniquely and solely mine and recognizing that to give me a different perspective. I still struggle with “no” every time, but I have a sense of ownership of that decision that I didn't perceive before.
Infused with the cluelessness and persistent optimism of being a 20-something, still perhaps shedding some of the trappings of adolescence, there's a good deal of uncertainty that seems to linger on the periphery. That said, if nothing else, I've learned in the last several years that nothing is certain and that many of the expectations that I held for myself just a few years ago are mostly irrelevant. There's something to be said for figuring out how to hold dreams and then chase them with your whole heart. And no one really teaches you how to do that. One of the things I LOVE about being a counseling student is that my classes are full of people who refuse to stop dreaming...it's contagious.
I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up except a dreamer and doer. And since those aren't really all that tangible, I think it best to take it all one day at a time, living fully. And that means that some days I'll feel all full of vim and vigor (and maybe even a little “rawr”) and others I might need to spend some time on the downswing. I'm gonna have to be okay with that, and live it anyway.
The very basic core of a man's living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. -Christopher McCandless