As a novice kayaker, I assumed the best technique was to plunge my oar deeply, keeping it submerged as long as possible to maximize forward mobility. This strategy worked in short bursts but quickly drained my spindly limbs.
Fortunately, in preparation for an eight-hour jaunt around Kauai’s Na Pali Coast, our instructor taught us the swift and shallow approach. Loosely gripping our paddles with elbows extended as if a beach ball rested in our laps, we were to catch, propel, and release the water. Relying on core and leg muscles, I completed the trek without requiring rescue — which made me wonder whether poor form hindered other facets of my life?
Now, I’d been called “a bit intense” on more than a few occasions, so the concept of surfacy interactions seemed akin to dreaming in a foreign language. Yet, my “what’s-the-quinessential-meaning-of-life” tendencies prickled carefully guarded comfort zones. I started appreciating the ease with which others established speedy rapport and noticed how, even brief snippets of connectivity, still resonated.
These days, just as I study the tide and current tables before launching my kayak on the San Francisco Bay, I’m keenly cognizant of those who seek a buffer from overly animated, philosophical sorts like me. And, although the temptation to thrust my paddle well beneath the surface beckons, I gingerly reel myself back several notches — knowing: In depth’s absence, impressions still endear.