For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved the water and anything associated with it. Boats, waterfalls, the ocean, a meandering creek… It doesn’t matter what exactly it is, I just have a deep love for all things H2O. There’s one caveat, though, and that’s deep bodies of water where I can’t see the bottom. The more precise name for this is thalassophobia and the effects it has on me are profound. Sweating, hyperventilating, a fear that strikes so deep, it causes me to nearly shutdown.
Remember that part about loving water? Well I’m not one to let fear stop me from doing what I love. Fear, just like anything else, takes constant maintenance and while I’ve kayaked before, it’s been years and the fear always comes back with a vengeance. The first time out on my Oru Bay, I got 50 feet from shore before promptly turning around and handing over the reigns to my partner. She glided across the water with ease and I was instantly jealous because she was having so much fun and I was stuck on the shore. Determined, I thought I would have another go at it. Imagine my surprise when the fear struck like lightning even closer to shore than my first time. Defeated this time around, we packed away the Oru and headed home.
As luck would have it, a few days later, I had another opportunity to face my fears head on. Three days in the North Cascades of Washington on one of my favorite lakes around. You see, the mind is our most powerful tool and I was more determined than ever to get out on the water enjoy it. I quickly assembled the kayak and got in the water. I could feel the fear welling up inside of me as I pushed off of the dock. The feeling grew deeper and deeper, more paralyzing with every rotation of the paddle. Under a bridge and out into the open water, I kept paddling until there was no one else around me. I was alone with my thoughts, the gentle waves lapping at the sides of kayak. It was then that I realized I was no longer afraid… I was free.
Nothing can quite replace the feeling of being out on the open water, completely alone and immersed in your surroundings. That feeling of freedom is addicting, the only thing stopping you is how far you’re willing to paddle. Although the fear may always be there in the background, it’s a humble reminder to respect the water and keeps hungry for the next adventure with my Oru.