Friday, August 18, 2006

Funny ol' fear...

(photo from

Fear. What an emotion.

So useful, in moderation, and under control.

But so useless - or even dangerous - in excess, and out of control.

That kayak guide/possibly soon-to-be outfitter in Hawaii I linked to the other day? The post that I first found myself reading, after following a "kayaking women" google search from my sitemeter, was a good example of fear of the useless variety. Didn't turn dangerous, because it sounds like everything else stayed more or less under control while the client freaked out, but that's the sort of thing that's really scary as a guide, since if anything REAL goes wrong on top of that, the extra distraction af the panicking client could just be the thing that tips it into Deep Trouble territory.

I've had situations like that myself while guiding. Never with the actual screaming I-need-to-get-out-of-this freakout, but I have had people who just seemed to sort of shut down and stop listening to me. It's a nasty, nasty feeling to suddenly realize that someone has frozen up & can't or won't hear you - it is your job, as a guide, to get your clients back safely, and most kayak guides spend a lot of time, effort and money in learning to do that - but clients get the most benefit of that when they listen and try to use what you can tell them to help themselves. When they stop listening, it gets to be about...well, some combination or other of prayer, a tow rope & all the physical & mental strength you can muster (both of your own and of other competent paddlers in the vicinity). Conversely, I've had a really scary situation that turned out just fine because everybody stayed cool & worked with me (oy, that was my first year as a partner at MKC & I came within a hair's breadth of dropping out after that, I was so shaken by the whole experience - but friend/mentor/business-partner Richard talked me down from that bridge with a story from HIS early days of guiding - wonder if any guides DON'T have one of those?).

I've also dealt with my OWN fear in my development as a boater. More than you might think, even. My most vivid early recollection of being in water is, in fact, one of falling into the deep end of a pool, long before I knew how to swim. My mother was right there & fished me out but I still remember being absolutely terrified and helpless. Took me a few years (& some Marines in the kiddy pool...that's a good story, worth it's own post) before I got over that early fright & truly got comfortable in the water.

Learning to kayak has brough plenty of moments where I was standing looking at something & having to wrestle with my inner chicken. It's not so much stuff that hits while I'm out that I'm talking about - that, you deal with. I'm talking more about stuff where you make an active choice to put yourself out into something scary - whitewater & waves.

Of course every time I've done that, I end up having an absolute blast.

Guess what though - this post isn't REALLY about kayaking -


TQ came down for a date (yes, on top of all the other stuff I usually try to cram into a summertime, this summer I've actually been seeing someone - don't worry, though, this is never going to turn into a dating blog, there's stuff I prefer to keep private) on Wednesday night. We had an offer to go out on the Rosemary Ruth, which would've been great, but he's only driven down to Brooklyn once (when he picked me up to go to NC) and that didn't go well. So, we decided that this time at least we'd keep it simple and keep it in Brooklyn (although I think we've now figured out a way that 79th street could be worked in without too much additional travel time...hint hint, Richard...;D).

It was a beautiful night. We had dinner at my favorite local restaurant, Picket Fence - then, since it was such a nice night, I suggested a walk on either the Coney Island Boardwalk or over the Brooklyn Bridge.

He thought the boardwalk sounded good.

(oops, look at the time. Lunch hour's over, to be continued!)

No comments: