Jayne: “Is that a dead end up there?”
Me: “I don’t think so… I hope not.”
Jayne: “oh man, I think that is a dead end, we can’t go through.”
Me: “Ugh! Your right! We are going to have to turn around and go back.”
I turned my kayak around and started to dig into the water, my arms were burning, and I began to realize that we were not going anywhere. The current was holding us in place as we attempted to paddle up stream. We were in a small alcove off the Delaware River, behind us was a dam we could not get through. A half mile ahead was the river and we just couldn’t seem to get to it. Not far from where we were on the river, was the dock we had decided to disembark from, and where Jayne’s truck was parked.
18 miles and 3 hours ago, we had entered the river. We had a great time talking, and laughing. We spied a bald eagle, and an osprey with a large rodent dangling from its talons. We sat in silent awe at the mountains around us, and screamed with primal joy while shooting down a section of rapids. The whole time we had maintained a good paddling pace; and here we were going nowhere. At this point, my mind is starting to turn dark. It begins to tell me that we will never make it, it begins to want to give up. Hello, wall. In most situations when you hit the wall, it’s easy to give up and walk away. Those times are easy because your life isn’t in danger, there is no good reason to try to break through that wall, or so you think. While we were not in mortal danger, we were stuck. The banks on either side of us were near vertical. However on the left above the 6ft high bank was a tow path.
Me: “Let’s get out and walk the path back to the river”
My arms were screaming. While carrying our kayaks to the river was not going to be a fun journey, we could be encouraged by progress. We pulled up to the bank, I got out of my kayak and my feet sunk into the soft ground, above was hard red earth with little vegetation to hold onto. I tossed my paddle up onto the path, gritted my teeth and hauled the kayak out of the water and up the bank. Every step was a half step back as I sunk and slid. Yet the wall was gone, this had to be done, there was no turning back. Finally, my kayak was on the trail. I turned back to help my friend who was struggling with her kayak at an awkward angle. This woman is no slouch, she runs half marathons, she goes to spin class, and swims on a regular basis. If you want to meet pure energy and laughter, you need to meet Jayne. While she was struggling with her kayak, she was also struggling with her wall. I could see it in her face, she was battling her own dark thoughts. I slid down the bank, and grabbed her kayak and together we hauled it up to the path.
Our journey was not done there, we still needed to get back to the river. With my jaw set I grabbed the front ends of the kayaks, while Jayne grabbed the back ends, and headed down the path to the river.
Jayne: “Wait! I think that if we head toward the dam, we will be where we need to be.”
I turned around and saw the Visitor’s Center. It hits me, we had arrived at our destination, just on the wrong side of the destination. We turned ourselves around, and carried our boats up to the parking lot. With relief rushing through our bodies, we walk up to a sign that read “Employee Parking Only”, my muscles were screaming, we put down the kayaks and enjoyed a good laugh.
Here is what I can take away from this adventure: Accomplishment is the long refreshing drink that you get to enjoy after the struggle. Even days later, I am still riding the waves of that accomplishment, it has motivated me to start this morning off with 25 jumping jacks, 25 squats, 4 pushups and a good hour dedicated to practicing Tai Chi.
The next time you hit your wall, remember, that flimsy wall is all that is standing between you and that gulp of accomplishment. Busting through it is much easier than you think.