Boating has always been a major part of my life. When I was younger—a child and a teenager—it informed so much of my identity, in the way that hobbies and collections and that sort of thing often inform one’s personality, since it people of that age haven’t had enough experiences and thoughts to have a mature personality.
Kayaking specifically was how I defined myself. It was what made me me, to borrow a common phrase. All of my daydreams and fantasies and goals about my adult like somehow involved boating: I’d be a professional kayaker, or a world-renown sailor, or I’d kayak down rivers and lakes that were unexplored by humans. Nothing was too grandiose for my young mind and naive understanding of the world. Kayaking was who I was and who I would always be, I thought, and it would be the factor that guided my life.
Although one hears this story more often with more popular sports like basketball or football, the narrative of childish ambition was the same and this hobby was my saviour, in some way that is less dramatic than that sounds.
As time went on and I grew up and matured, I went through the normal stages of life such as moving out on my own, going to university, getting my first proper job, etc. In that phase of my life when my priorities were realigning themselves I had a sense of loss in regards kayaking and how something that was once so meaningful had started taking a minor role in my life. It was nothing that caused alarm or wasn’t to be expected, but it caused some small pain, if I’m honest.
That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the sport anymore—and I was still doing it regularly—but somehow it just didn’t have the feel that it once did.
Nevertheless, I came to the conclusion that what has informed one as a child tends to stay with one throughout one’s life and in that sense kayaking will always be a part of who I am.