There was a ten year period in my life that I didn’t paddle much. Weekends were spent at the soccer field with the kids or sitting in the parking lot waiting for a child to get out of basketball practice. I still paddled but just a few days a year- a father’s day family float (upper new river) on the raft or the stars would align and I would take one of the kids out in the canoe on the bluestone or greenbrier river with the spouse shuttling. I refer to that time period as “my dark years” of paddling because I only got out occasionally.
When the kids became more independent, my income also increased and I had more leisure time. So it was only natural I wanted to paddle more. I was ten years older, hadn’t kept an active life style up and was beginning to feel some of the aches and pains from earlier outdoor activities. I knew I couldn’t physically do what I once did.
I made peace with that, by thinking about what I liked about paddlesports. I like how paddling makes me feel and the connection it provides to the natural world. I don’t have to keep up with my younger self to enjoy paddling. My current mantra is simple, “Do as much as you want, for as long as you can”.
So now I am far more likely to be on a class II-III river, rather than a class IV-V stream. Physically I can no longer c1 (kneeling) but still enjoying kayaking. We have an expression, “It’s all good.”
Rather than climbing the ladder of difficulty, I’m gracefully sliding down with style. Perhaps mentoring a few others who are on their way up. I don’t pine for the glory years, right now is a really good time too. Just different than when I was younger.