Monday, October 19, 2009

The Ability to Let Go

Mariann Saether is a kick ass paddler. And when we ran into an article she wrote about being able to be the boater you want to be, we just had to share it with everyone.

The Ability to Let Go - Mariann Saether

When you take away the obvious differences in strength between men and women, I have found that the biggest difference between us as paddlers is the ability to let go. For many women, it seems very hard to come to terms with this simple fact: Sometimes you have to let go and push yourself out of that eddy to allow yourself to grow as a kayaker. It is ok to have somebody (like the boyfriend :-)) to hold your hand for a while, helping you to reach decisions on the river as to which rapids to run and which to walk. But I guarantee, there will be a moment where you need to let go of irrational fear and push yourself to paddle towards a horizon line, without anybody telling you to do it but yourself. I am not saying that you should go and huck a class five when you are only a class three kayaker, but if it is a safe class four rapid, that you can actually set up good safety for, why not go for it? We all swim, we all get trashed from time to time, and it is OK! It doesn't mean you are a bad kayaker, it means you are trying to get better.

To me, the biggest challenge when it comes to Class V, is to realize when to push through that mental barrier and let go. I have gotten to know myself quite well over the years of sitting on top of horizon lines. If I am scared, doubting my line on a class five, I will not paddle it. I will not allow myself to let go, and paddle out of that eddy. But if I know my line, I know I can do it, but am still feeling really nervous, that is when this ability comes into play. To force your mind to stop playing tricks on you and get out of that eddy.

There is a certain time in kayaking where you need to stop holding your boyfriend's hand and make your own decisions. If those decisions are walking 80 percent of the time, well that is your choice. If you have portaged the boat and you are still happy with your decision as you get back in the water, well then everything is good. But for the rest of you out there that hate it when you cave in for your fear and feel really down after having portaged a rapid you could have run, then it is time to start letting go. Because the reward you get at the bottom of the rapid is extremely addicting. To be able to push yourself, whether it was a class three, four or five is an amazing feeling of accomplishment that you can take with you outside of the world of kayaking.

I am never more in the moment than when I let go and paddle a hard rapid. My focus is 110 percent on my line and moving with the water. Sometimes I think back after a big one, realizing that it is probably as close to deep meditation as I will ever get. A full focus, and an entirely blank mind, emptied of the normal small thoughts about laundry, dinner tonight, plane ticket to Chile, kayak, the clean blunt, lunch etc etc....

It is about enjoying the ride, and if you don’t enjoy Class IV at all, then don't do it. If you don’t enjoy Class III, don't do it. If you don't enjoy Class II.. well... Maybe you were born a base jumper, not a kayaker... Be honest to yourself.


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