Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Little Goals

A Proper Course Group Writing Project.

So very curious to think that sometime this month has to be the ten-year anniversary of the beginning of my "career" as an NYC-based boater. Yep, sometime in June 1998 I'm figuring I must've had my first kayak lesson at Manhattan Kayak Company.

I took to it fast - maybe too fast. I had some good mentors, and I picked up the skills fast. By my 2nd year I was a partner in the company where I'd had my first lesson & was assistant guiding & teaching. 3rd year, no longer so much assistant. Got my ACA open-water coastal kayaking instructor certification in there somewhere. Started into British Canoe Union training & got the 3-star, then the 4-star. Went to a lot of meetings & stood up & said what I thought about the paddler's place in the Hudson when I thought I had something worth saying. When in the end increasing interpersonal difficulties followed by the loss & shock of September 11th drove me out of the kayak company, I found a new part-time home working on on the schooner Adirondack...

So what the heck is going on now with my goals? You know, the ones I stated or alluded to in the last post?

10 miles a week?

Ecstatic about the promise of going out and kicking around in a Sunfish on Sunday?

Well...I think there's an underlying goal that I didn't mention, but maybe you can pick it up if you read that sad little haiku last week, and my homesick moment. I was pretty low - still am a bit - but then I was laughing in the next post over the collective Hobie silliness, and I think I quite failed to capture the enchantment of my Sunday surfski spin, and the satisfaction of getting Poor Old Ski (who after my little "p.o.s." insult will receive a proper blogpology in the next day or two) back in working order and getting in, yes, my precious ridiculous silly 10 miles (with race-the-sun finish).

Such a silly little goal.

I'm pretty good - why aren't I setting myself some bigger goal, like a big expedition-type trip of the sort that are so popular among sea kayakers? Or training for a big race, or trying harder to get more time on whitewater, or in surf - or, swinging over to my sailing side, starting to work towards bareboat certification (that last would be the big sailing pipe-dream I've had since an incredible bare-boat charter in the BVI's a few years back, happy sigh, but these are all things I'd absolutely positvely LOVE to do sometime)?

Because the bigger goal is to keep the boating fun. Because that's the primary role it plays in my NYC life, which is already - well, I'd hardly describe myself as an overachiever but these days I sure am overworked and overscheduled. Going after any of those big-ticket dreams with my life being the life it is right now would stretch my resources (personal & financial) beyond the definition of "fun"!

Getting out in a boat has to be an escape. Can't become another source of stress.

Me being me, and this city being this city, sometimes it's not that easy to keep to that. Recently, I'd been getting very focused on finishing my British Canoe Union Level 2 Coach certification. Sebago had paid for a number of us to be trained to the "L2 Trainee" level & I'd been judged nearly ready for certification (just a bit rusty after the 3 year schooner-driven hiatus from frequent teaching) - but I couldn't quite wrap things up last year.

Well, this year the BCU has adopted a new system, it's far from universally understood or accepted over here yet, and when I started trying to find out how I could get certified, I was running into some real vagueness & seeming contradictions as to how I should proceed. I was pushing to get accepted as an paying observer for a symposium in Vermont where one of the top BCU guys was going to be teaching. It sounds fantastic, actually but then I started considering the logistics & expense.

That's when my head began to hurt.

I was going to rent a car. Buy gas (eeek). Load up the Romany & all my stuff. Drive to Vermont. Skip helping out with a club training weekend I was really looking forward to. Vacation days were going to be taken, and in the end I honestly couldn't figure out if that was going to be a useful step towards certification or not...

And then I realized I was completely stressing out about the time, the expense, maybe the pressure of being in a strange paid-observer role & not really knowing how I was supposed to fit in, and the complete uncertainty of whether or not all of that was going to get me any closer to certification or not.

And who was pushing me into all of this?

Me. Nobody else. Nobody at the club, nobody at the BCU, just me being an obsessive overachieving duty-driven me.

So I said to myself - "Self, knock it off".

And then I said to all the people I'd been chasing after, "I think I should just chill a bit, I'm stressing out over this a lot and first and foremost boating is something I do for the enjoyment. I'm not an early adopter by nature (I still listen to cassettes) and I think that instead of getting crazy about this, I should help teach at the lake, and wait, and let the new system settle in some."

And nobody got mad at me, and I felt so relieved. And by pure happy coincidence, now it's suddenly looking like there may be a simpler way I might be able to achieve at least one level of certification - it'd still be a couple vacation days & a rental car to go to Lake Champlain, but not quite as far, and with far clearer potential for results.


And in the meantime - 10 miles a week. That's a realistic goal, and with the work stresses being what they are, it's also the minimum amount of watertime I need in a given week to leave those behind me. To relax. To kick my heart & lungs & muscles into drive & my brain out of hamster-wheel overdrive what-was-I-about-to-forget-to-do mode, and into simple presence on the water.

More is great, and I hope that as the summer moves on the work situation settles and I can start exceeding that on a regular basis.

But right now - 10 miles a week is what I need, and also about what I can reliably manage.

So for now, it is a perfect goal.

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