Face (most of) your fears

Okay, sometimes kayaking is pretty fun. 

(SitNews) Ketchikan, Alaska – It is important to face your fears, otherwise there will be no growth and you’ll end up a subordinate character, stuck in a life with no action and no plot.

As important as it is to face fears, it is important to face one, admit it didn’t work, and have one that is totally irrational.

I am scared of heights, so I went sky diving. It only provided me the clarity to see that it is man-made heights that terrify me, or being around people who will do the fake push joke that has never been funny. Ever. To physically jostle someone who is already emotionally compromised is wrong.

My irrational fear started as an innocuous thought that has now taken root and spread into full-fledged absurdity. Ever since I was showing my buddy how to get into a kayak and rolled it, I’ve known kayaking wasn’t for me. My unintentional research into the physics of drowning in a foot of water did not prevent me from shedding the wet clothes and powering on because it was a beautiful day and the Canoe Point waterfall south of Craig is pretty sweet. But the wind picked up, the tide was against us, and I was ridiculously sore the next day.

Kayaking is not as relaxing as people make it out to be.

Public service announcement: Let me make something clear here, this anti-kayaking column is much more of a reflection of my character than an indictment of kayaking itself. It is out of simple jealousy and immaturity that I harbor this negativity.

Anyway, I have to move a lot. If I was four I’d call it squirmy, if I wanted a condition I’d go to WebMD and diagnose myself with mild generalized anxiety disorder or restless leg syndrome. Since I am not four, and neither of those ailments sound fun, I’ll settle for a more clumsily worded description, something like: uncomfortable when seated in a straight-legged position for an extended period of time while rowing syndrome.

If I get going fast, I immediately slow down once I stop paddling. Yeah, I know, it’s about a nice smooth pace. But I want to get where I am going and any time not paddling is losing, punishment. That doesn’t happen while hiking. I can take my pack off and stretch or eat berries. If my lower back needs a break in a kayak, that’s when I am sure something will go wrong.

It’s not that I’m afraid of water or don’t know how to swim, it’s that I’m afraid of seals and don’t know how to swim. Well, I can swim, but not with the efficiency it would require for me to do myself any good in an ocean situation. I really don’t want to be bobbing up and down looking like a floating meal in front of an ornery seal, or one who knows about the push joke. Don’t let the big eyes, whiskers and generally friendly demeanor fool you, seals are terrifying. They just get a pass because sea lions are the foul-breathed super jerks of the harbor, following boats to the king grounds to steal salmon once they are hooked.

Didn’t want that anyway…you just enjoy.

What about bears? Well, yeah, they are probably more dangerous than seals, I’ll give you that, but if you make a lot of noise you should be able to avoid them and I feel better about being on land. I also believe that if I am ever to be famous, it will not be because of an epic bear story, my legend will be rooted in a tale involving a seal to which people, upon hearing, will respond with laughter.

So yeah, kids, face your fears, but if you can’t face them all, make sure it’s a really stupid one.

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