Pay Attention Idiot!
Pay Attention Idiot!!! Has anyone ever yelled something like that at you? Maybe they did but you just weren’t paying attention? I can’t remember ever taking that sort of abuse when I’ve paddled, but I’ve had my share of one finger solutes when driving I’m sure! Most of the time, the shouting has to do with simple human error being witnessed by someone of low intelligence, but sometimes, well, we should pay more attention..
Not long ago, I was paddling with a few other folks, when to my right I heard someone say, “line”. It wasn’t a shout by any means, but it did catch my attention. I looked over and saw another kayaker riding maybe 20 feet off the shoreline about to cross the lines of about five guys fishing from shore.. “Line!!” A big burly guy said a second time and just a bit louder.. By then it was too late. The paddler, seemingly off in dreamy-dreamy land, just paddled right over the lines and past the fishermen as though they never existed. The big burly guy just made a face, shook his head, then turned and began talking to the guy next to him who. I could imagine that conversation! I watched the dude in his fancy sea kayak continue on for a moment and thought to myself, “Now that guy is one of those idiots that give kayakers a bad name!!”. I don’t even fish! I watched him paddle on for few more moments… “IDIOT!”, I exclaimed under my breath.
Ah, but hold on there TEX! Paddling and idiocy go hand-in-hand when you think about it. Paddling can make you into an Idiot. It depends how you experience the sport. If at the outset, you see paddling as a way to leave your real world issues behind and launch out into your own personal escape, you’re on the road to potential idiocy. If your whole goal is to tune out and watch the fluffy clouds race over your head and forget about the so-n-so you live or work with, well, anything can happen. It sometimes does. Being an idiot is sometimes just the underlying cost relaxation. The more relaxed you are, the less alert you become, the more you open the doors to, well, to be polite, “mistakes”.
You have to be wise about being an idiot. You certainly don’t want to spend too much time being an idiot near the shoreline where fisherman and other hazards could be just around the next rock. You don’t want to be an idiot near landings, harbors or shipping lanes. I saw some dude once stop to find a candy bar outside of Milwaukee’s busy harbor once… Buh! Heck, you don’t want to be an idiot anywhere where you’ll be sharing the water with power boats. Worth noting right now, you don’t want to be an idiot in cold weather. Thinking that you’ll just take a quick relaxing paddle and won’t need a drysuit because, “I’m not going to be out long enough to fall in.” is well, unwise. We can come up with a thousand ways paddlers can be idiots. Feel free to post them in the comments if you need to get them off your chest. You may save a life someday… or save someone from a verbal thrashing anyway!
But here’s the thing.. Paddling IS often our escape. We want to sometimes zone out, drift, be mindless and just float. Nothing wrong there, in fact it’s a good idea to be an idiot now and again! You just need to consider your environment and make sure that when you do go vapid or become engrossed in watching a dragonfly, you do it where you won’t get into trouble. Where do you like to be an idiot? My favorite place to be an idiot is in a bed of reeds. My boat won’t go anywhere and powerboats can’t get in! Sitting in reeds or cattails I can just vaporize with little fear of repercussion! (Well, as long as no snakes show up!)
In the end, if you apply a little wisdom before you become an idiot, you’ll be a much happier moron. You’ll also be more popular the other people in your world as well!
That’s my ramble for this cool, cloudy, Saturday, September 24th, 2011.