We were on the ride into work one morning and Kim was in her usual morning trance scrolling through Facebook or Pinterest when she came across this kayaking T-shirt. She distracted me from my driving long enough to hold up her phone and show me the picture. Now I can read a traffic sign or license tag at 800 yards but everything on the phone is a blur at less than 12 inches so I just took a quick glance at the screen. All I could make out was the top line in big white letters on a black shirt that said “I Kayak” and underneath was a somewhat fuzzy outline of a kayaker running some rapids. Everything below the center mass was a hazy mix of letters that I couldn’t focus on nor should I have been trying to do so driving through the morning rush. Rather than strain any longer or risk running into the idiot in front of me putting on makeup I just told her to read it to me. The bottom line was a few simple words that posed the questions “What is your super power?”
Now kayakers don’t have super powers, regardless of the fact that it does take some incredible skill sometimes to do some of the things we do in a piece of plastic, wood or composite not much wider than the chair you are probably sitting in right now. Some of us like to push the envelope a little and take our craft through places and conditions that would make the average person pucker their butt just thinking about. The first kayak that Kim bought me had a sticker on the inside that said “Not designed for use above Class II rapids”. That didn’t stop me from taking it on the New River down a quarter mile class III, although I spent about half the distance with the boat way out ahead of me and my bottom scraping every single rock as I slide helplessly down the ravine. It also didn’t stop me from hauling the boat back up the mountain the following day to give it another run. After two disappointing attempts I decided the manufacturer was right and it was time for another boat. That same boat wasn’t really designed for long distance or open water either but I had a buddy paddle it on a 150 mile trip one year. The following year he made a four mile open water crossing in it during a nor-easter on the Outer Banks. There were times on that trip I would look across from my sea kayak and waves would completely block him from view but every now and again he would pop up on a wave, head tucked down, paddle wind milling away making just as good a speed as I was. Skill, luck or stupidity as some might say but whatever it was we sure had fun and we are better for the experience. You can’t learn something or get better at something without pushing the limits having both victories and defeats. If we don’t fail sometimes we can never win. Failures are the stepping stones to success.
We didn’t live to paddle another day because of super powers, we made it through because we weren’t afraid to get out of our comfort zone from time to time and push the limits. With any challenge in life you will never succeed if you back down every time things get hard. That little sticker inside the boat might say you can’t do something but you can’t always take it at its word. Just because someone says something can’t be done doesn’t mean that you can’t do it, it just means they couldn’t do it!In just over a month I will again embark on a long and arduous journey. A journey that some said couldn’t be done, because they themselves couldn’t do it. It hasn’t always sunshine and rainbows but we are better for the experience. Some even went through Hell, but they are back! No super powers needed, it is all about perseverance.