Sometimes a picture is worth more than a thousand words.(lucky for us writers, not too often)
I’ve been dying to go white water kayaking. Now I’ve been leisure kayaking, paddling casually, enjoying the scenery, but the restless daredevil who lies deep in my subconscious reared it’s head and pushed me to up the ante. With labor day marking the end of summer, I decided to indulge my whim and signed up for a lesson.(www.alpinequestsports.com)
I donned my splash jacket, slipped on my water booties and grabbed a hat with a chin strap.(if you are wondering about the hat with the strap, see the picture above-that should explain everything.)
The first part of the lesson was in a small pond(not a rapid in sight) where we could practice what the instructor called the most important skill in kayaking-the wet egress, more simply put the emergency exit.
There are quite a few differences between regular and white water kayaking, the most pertinent being the micro-fiber maxi-skirt that you wear around your waist to secure you inside the kayak and keep water out.(so you don’t sink and so on…)
Sounds straight forward and down right productive, if you ask me. But then it occurred to me. When I’m barreling down the churning rapids, what happens when I get flipped upside down?
Now I know most of you are thinking, I’m an athlete, I catch on to new activities very quickly. Well I’m here to tell you, that as a beginner, plan to spend a fair amount of time bottom side up.(refer to the picture again, I warned you it covers a lot of ground)
“Hug the front of the kayak, yank on the tab, pull the skirt off the lip and swim to the surface.” That was the drill. A few wet egresses later, we packed up our gear and were off to the Colorado River.
While we wound up the treacherous mountain road, I started to think about adversity and how we dealt with it, wet or dry.
As you all know by now, I’m in the process of polishing my first work, a suspense novel called “Risk”. What you may not know is about a month ago, I started working with an editor to help make sure my document was ready to submit to agents.
I reviewed the format, spell checked (for the millionth time) and re-read all ninety thousand words before sending my baby to be edited. I felt good.(by the way, at this time, I have about three years into this project, with the last 12 months being almost full-time) I sent my first hundred pages off to be scrutinized.
To my delight, my responsive editor turned the pages around in a few short days. I could hardly control my excitement. Now I was well aware of my status of new author and realized there would be a fair amount of changes to be made.
I hurried to my inbox and opened the attachment. Frantically, I scanned the first chapter.
I wasn’t prepared for what I saw.
OMG!(goodness, gracious me-o-my, holy-buckets, rasa-frasan)
I was hard pressed to find a line without cross-outs or a dialogue box of comments. It was a complete cluster.(you can add whatever descriptive you want, you know which one I used)
I was devastated. To avoid throwing up, I went out for a six-mile run.
Ironically, the next day I left for a conference that featured a motivational speaker named Warren Macdonald.(www.waren-macdonald.com/vip)
The minute he took the stage, I knew it was meant to be. He was a young man (in his forties-yes, forty is still considered young) who lost both legs from the hips down in a terrifying climbing accident.
He began his presentation. “Losing both my legs really hasn’t changed my life that much.”
What? I thought. Am I suffering fallout from yesterday’s editing explosion?
He repeated it again and said, “As a matter of fact, the things that get in my way most days are the same things that affect all of you.”
I listened carefully for the next hour and became truly inspired. By the end of the presentation, I believed him. He said that it really didn’t matter what obstacle was put in front of us, the true challenge was actually our perception of it. And if we were able to take that perception, break it down into manageable parts, there was no obstacle we couldn’t work through or, in his case, climb.
While the impact of the words sunk in, he posted some pictures on the projector screen.
The fist picture was him sitting on top of a 11,000 foot peak. He climbed to the summit a short ten months after having both legs amputated. The second picture was him and another man. They were standing on top of Mt. Kilimanjaro. He with no legs and his partner with no arms. It took them eighteen long days and a team of men, but they did it.
Suddenly, the scale of my edits shrunk into perspective. I could hardly wait to get back to the room and start writing.
An hour had passed and we finally reached the “put-in” for the kayaks. I hauled my boat on my shoulder to the river and got in. I fell in line behind the instructor and practiced my strokes. When we approached the first set of rapids, I quickly reviewed the steps for the egress in my head.
With one last check of my helmet, I stuck the paddle in the water and dug in. Faster and faster I stoked, propelling myself through the trials of the rushing rapids. Waves crashed against my boat, doing their best to toss me off balance as I maneuvered through the scattered boulders. I held my course. Shooting out of the last eddy, I glided into quieter water. Delighted (and still upright, by the way) I floated freely.