I was focused after capsizing my kayak on the Shenango River.
I rounded a turn and saw a large branch, but figured I’d let myself slide off it and be on my way. But the current had other ideas. It trapped my boat against the branch and I was over, gasping and scrambling in the deep water. My lunch and paddle floated away. Water filled the unsecured dry hatch. My life jacket wasn’t tight enough; it was pushing up to my ears.
I was totally given over to getting myself out of my predicament. The mantra from rescue training rolled through my head: “Stay with the boat!” I grabbed at the edges of the cockpit, now upside down, and tried to find the bottom with my feet. Nothing. There was only room for one other thought: “Jesus!”
Finally I stepped on stones and fellow paddlers helped drag my boat to shore, empty it and round up my errant equipment. I caught my breath, shaking from cold and fright. I had to paddle soaking wet until we could stop and a friend handed me her dry clothes.
I thought I knew the dangers. But I had never imagined them strongly enough to prepare just in case, as necessary on the river. Now I have no trouble imagining the results of poor preparation. I lived it.
Imagination isn’t only useful in the “artistic” realm. God gave us imagination to help us think critically, especially while trying to figure out Plan B in deep water. My “bad example” has become a running joke in my kayaking group. Hey, I deserve it!