Hey, if you’re the type who thinks nothing of jumping into the underwater cage to get an up close shot of the Great White Shark barreling towards you with his jaws open, or are signing up for tight-roping lessons this week, because that Wolenda Grand Canyon thing just looked so do-able to you, then you might want to close your laptop now, cause my little adventure today might be just what you need to skip the sleeping pill tonight.
It has come to my attention recently how little I know about the natural world, and have been determined to put myself in it, or as close to it as possible without being eaten by a bear. Last month I climbed up on the beautiful BullWinkle, a big, brown horse (sorry horsey people, the only horse name I know is a Clydesdale, and only because of the beer commercials.), something I hadn’t done since I was thrown on the back of a horse at my summer day camp, and “Sunshine” headed straight into Baltimore City traffic. I was 12 years old and terrified..it took me 36 years to climb back up. No one should wait 36 years to do something they want to do, how stupid of me. Riding on BullWinkle on a beautiful trail in West Virginia with deer grazing gently nearby was joyous, I had to fight to play it cool, because I was bursting at the seams the entire ride. It was a nice, slow pace, but in my mind I was Lady Godiva, only with my clothes on. There’s always next time.
So today’s adventure brought me and the family to a lake and a waiting Kayak instructor. A patient, wonderful teacher who screams outdoors. A man, who when camping, tells his wife to go back to sleep while bears circle their tent at night..no biggie. Once again, I felt the joy rising in my throat, but played it cool. This man guides people through the Florida Everglades, has been feet away from gators and grizzlies..but I showed my hand when I squealed with glee when he said we would be passing a beaver lodge on our paddle. I am not afraid of the water, I can swim, but my fear of tipping over and not being able to climb back in my kayak has kept me on the shores of lakes and bays for years, watching people glide by me. I dreamed of being them. How stupid. Today I put my stupid ass in that kayak. I imagined the astronauts stepping outside the spacecraft with those tethers holding them to the Mother Ship. You’re laughing at me, I know..but it’s true, I felt that brave and alive paddling my own kayak on that beautiful lake today. If you fall out, the instructor said,which you won’t, but if you do, you just swim to shore. Oh, yeah, the shore..it’s right there, how stupid of me, it’s always been there.