I checked my dignity at the beach before taking an advanced kayaking class offered by Pymatuning State Park. The challenge was to learn how to rescue someone (yourself or others) after capsizing in deep water.
There are several techniques, and to dump into the water, then hoist yourself onto a light, narrow boat is a feat, especially for us 50 somethings. Even with someone holding your kayak (from their kayak), even with a hand up. You slide onto the boat facing the stern, then turn, stuffing your limbs into the cockpit, and oh, by the way, maintaining balance while you’re at it. (Where did my paddle go?)
You couldn’t worry about how you looked. Our movements were awkward and decidedly ungraceful.
I tried different techniques: a “T” rescue, using a paddle float, and a strap. I accomplished two of the three, with leg cramps and lack of upper body strength prohibiting success in the other. The next day I was feelin’ it, limping around the house nursing bumps and bruises and stretched muscles. And that’s after six years of paddling.
What I learned mostly was what it feels like to be in that situation. How hard it is to rescue. To trust my life jacket to do its job so I could focus on other tasks. But maybe the most important of all: what to expect from myself if the worst happens.
We can find grace in awkward situations, when we’re caught in a hard place. It’s not always pretty. But who ever said grace is?