The sweet Georgia breeze cooled my face as the sun kissed my cheeks. As my flip-flops created a rhythm against the algae covered dock I hesitated and thought of just turning around. But something kept me going. I trotted slowly over to my smiling instructor. His windswept hair fell right above his eyebrows as he introduced himself. The bay beneath me was intimidating. I couldn't help but wonder what could lie beneath. My instructor’s hands, clammy from being in the bay all day, reached over to the long narrow yellow kayak. What have I gotten myself into I thought over and over again. As he pushed the kayak into the bay it rocked back and forth, making me even more nervous. My instructor confidently guided me over to the kayak. “Ok,come and sit on down,” he smiled as he pointed towards the waiting kayak. I pretended to act like it was no big deal but inside I couldn’t believe I was actually going in. As I seated myself he gave the kayak a big push, moving it into the bay. The current kept me going. As I headed straight out into the bay I realized I had no idea how to kayak. Panic. With every gust of wind I was swept further and further away from my instructor. Suddenly, he appeared right next to me. He rotated his arms in a rhythmic pattern, holding each paddle, making the water of the bay pull back against the current. I did the same. I watched the wandering currents as they moved gracefully one by one. The wind moved them with such perfect cadence it looked unreal. “You’re kayaking like a pro” my instructor exclaimed. His nasally voice seemed to show his youthful personality as we kayaked further into the bay. After paddling a couple times, I started to feel confident and not afraid. I started to feel as if I wanted to take in every moment. Every feeling. Every emotion. Every breath of wind. Every caress of the sun. Everything. On every edge of the bay, oysters clung tightly to the sides next to long grassy marshes. Never in my life had I seen any place like it. The paddle hit the bay over and over again making the water tug against the wind. I managed to keep my balance and focus on the open bay in front of me. My instructor kept guiding me all along through the bay. I moved my arms faster against the raging current. I struggled to stay straight and near to my instructor. My arms were sore and blisters were forming on my thumbs from paddling for over an hour, but even with this I forced myself to think of only the positives. “Move your kayak over here,” my instructor called out to me as I moved further and further away from him. He told me to move off to a sandy area at the side of the bay. I shifted aggressively towards the sand and lifted myself out of the rocking kayak. My bare feet sunk deeply into the wet sand as I walked slowly exploring the abandoned beach. As I kept walking I realized I had started to lose my grip in the sand and found it difficult to walk. I looked down at my bare toes and found the land beneath me had changed to tiny indented ripples, just like the ones formed over the bay. In front of me the waves of the ocean crashed into distant sand. “During low tide the ocean water goes back and leaves this area uncovered,” my instructor said as his hair danced from the ocean breeze. The land below me was mesmerizing. In between the swirled indents made by the ocean’s waves as they receded were thousands of sand dollars, shells and barnacles. My hair swirled from the cooling wind like ink poured in water as I looked out to see miles of empty ocean. I took a deep breath in hopes of taking in all the beauty, worried that I might otherwise forget it. We paddled back and I couldn’t believe the amazing adventure I could have missed. I learned there are things I can do if I don’t let my fears hold me back. I realized how feeling nervous is normal but shouldn’t stop me from exploring all the world has to offer. I smiled to myself and ran back up the creaky dock. I can’t wait for my next kayaking adventure.
“Be Adventurous, Take Risks, Have fun”
June 22, 2013