|Actual picture of me kayaking on the Yampa|
It looks like fun.
And it is, kind of.
Actually, it was a lot of fun.
Unfortunately, I am terrible at it.
Ok, that's not really true either.
The guide said I did very well.
I made it through all the hard bits on the river.
The not so hard bits dumped me upside down.
The first time was understandable.
It was a big drop of almost two feet.
That one hurt.
My ankle is still sore.
The second one wasn't my fault.
My boyfriend crowded me over some rocks.
It is really impossible to paddle effectively in four inches of water.
At least he knew it was his fault.
I literally said "Its not fair for you to crowd me into the rocks."
10 seconds later I was upside down again.
The first time I dunked was scary.
I felt myself start to panic.
Then I remembered the instructions and got out of the boat.
The water wasn't dangerous or deep.
Flowing fast, maybe, but not too worrisome.
I stood up finally and starting heading to shore.
It was like walking on slippery bowling balls.
Plus that water was COLD.
I was shaking from the adrenaline dump.
But you know what, I got my fat butt back in that boat and kept trying.
In the end, I learned a lot.
I earned every bruise, bump, and sore muscle.
River kayaking is fun, though I'm not itching to do it again any time soon.
My boyfriend, on the other hand, loved it.
He can't wait to try a harder stretch of water.
Hmmm, we'll see.
Now stand up paddle boarding?
That I will do.
Not on a river with much current or white water, but I'm surprisingly upright on a paddle board.
The point is that it was, overall, a good experience.
It was something new.
It challenged me and made me push myself.
It also made me insanely self-conscious and full of self-doubt.
The guide called me out at one point.
He told me that whenever he complimented me, I looked super nervous.
Physical stuff is not my forte and so I never think I am good at it.
Because, I'm basically not.
I mean I can learn, but I have no natural grace.
Like, really, none.
His comment got me thinking about my students.
Turns out, the guide is also a middle school teacher.
How 'bout that?
Anyway, I wonder if many of my students feel about reading and writing, the way I feel about kayaking.
Someone they care about (like their awesome teacher) might convince them to try it.
But it isn't natural or easy for them.
It will cause bruises to their egos if not their bodies.
It will challenge them.
It definitely makes them uncomfortable, self-conscious, and full of self-doubt.
Unlike me and my kayak though, getting up is probably a lot harder for them.
That panic reflex is powerful.
The fear that the water is super deep and dangerous is very real.
The determination to keep trying is elusive.
As hard as it is for me on vacation, I can't imagine doing it in my day to day life.
So, yeah, Kayak School was an adventure.
Adventures are a good thing.
Being reminded of what it feels like to learn something,
To learn to do something you don't really care about that much,
To try something scary, difficult, and uncomfortable,
To keep going when it would be easier to quit, and
Ultimately, to be reminded of what it feels like to be the student,
that is a very good thing indeed.