Through the Crashing Waves...

Through the Crashing Waves

It is hard to describe what it is like on the ocean in the outrigger. The pictures and videos never do it justice.

I love this video the most to get a feel for the sport. Of course, I am out there as a wannabe, and those guys and most of the guys I paddle with have forgotten more about being a waterman than I will ever learn. 

This picture is from the race two Saturdays ago. It was long and hard. One has to find a level of inner strength and determination to get through it beyond what I ever thought I would have.

(I'm in the green hat in the middle, Seat 3)

Some pictures are coming from the Kailua Bay Challenge Race I did yesterday. At one point, we were utterly airborne in the canoe. While suspended mid-air, awaiting the crashing contact with the ocean below, I saw a boat in front of us taking photos. It’s incredible how much information one can process in an intense instance of life.

In The Kailua Bay Challenge, we go around all 4 islands within Kailua Bay. Why? It challenges one’s emotional strength and ability to not pee oneself. The conditions are challenging. It is simultaneously the most exhilarating, joyful experience and the most terrifying and exhausting.

At one point, when we were fully airborne, I cried. Not in fear, but it was just such a flood of emotion. Just life at full blast!

And when one is out there, in the canoe, in the washing machine with the waves coming in towards you on one side and the rocks of the islands on the other, there really is nothing to do other than paddle as hard as you can.

Teale often asks me how I am so brave. In truth, I am one of the biggest scaredy-cats, but once you are in an overwhelming situation, there is nothing to do other than go through it.

I love this about paddling. Once we leave the shore, the only way out of the boat is to get to the finish line. It’s too late now to go back.

We did huli (capsize) behind the Mokes this time. It was within the last 30 yards or so of tough water. So we are a bit disappointed. A boat in front of us hulied, and it was the first time we all took our attention out of our own canoe, and low and behold, we joined them upside down in the water within 30 seconds. A valuable lesson learned. Stay focused on our own boat!!

Being upside down, zipped into a canoe, kicking against the hull to get free, and up to the surface a few yards away from the rocks isn’t as bad an experience in reality as one imagines.

Every day, I get braver, stronger, and prouder of myself.

I am never so alive as I am on the ocean!

Although I often think of my days on the 5 Rhythms and Soul motion dance floor. Those natural highs dancing were also magical. Sometimes, I wish I could combine the two. Paddle like crazy, and then we all dance together ecstatically afterward. There is a stoicism around paddling culture that may make that vision hard to actualize.

One day.


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Figs is the creator of the Empathi method and the certification process for Empathi coaches. He’s also Chief Empathi Officer, husband, dad, wounded-healer and was featured on NPR’s All Things Considered as a champion for healthy relationships. Figs’ life’s mission is to help couples feel more connected.

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