Kayak Time Travelling

Posted by Author David Lee

Last Updated June 1, 2023

As I grow into a man in my own right, kayaking to me is an escape from the harsh realities of the present and into the blissful memories of the past. I, to this day, still remember that first moment I was able to paddle on my own rubber inflatable dinghy. Standing in front of me, my parents was proud of their youngest boy finally able to lift the paddle. They snapped the photo attached. Alongside one of my sisters, we paddled our way from the cabin in which my grandparents stood smiling and waving, sending my family and all 20 cousins off for the day of adventure before us. Little would I know that these moments would be my safe haven and the only memories that are not tainted by the reality of life as an adult. When I am in my kayak, surrounded by my siblings and cousins, who now are aged, half married, and well upon their way in the world, I feel a sense of peace and serenity. Growing up on a farm, I have always felt extremely connected to nature and the earth. Kayaking brings this connectedness to another level. To be half-submerged in mother nature’s liquid form, breathing the distinct smell of the river or lake, the wind softly touching your skin, and the sun blazing down on your shoulders is to take a trip to the first days of your life on earth. The same water, the same air, the same sun takes you back to moments where you were at your happiest. This reign true for me. When my grandmother passed, and subsequently my uncle, my relationship with my father spiraled. What was a close relationship between our family, turned into isolation and division. As I continued on in my educational and professional journey, our relationship continued to suffer. Watching as my loving and passionate father turned into a depressed alcoholic, I oftentimes only rely on memories to feel close to him. Being on the water in our kayaks has been my main form of this. I still remember each lesson, family fable, and each laugh we shared on the water. Not having my father’s prescience truly since I was 16 years old has been hard. Missing moments cherished by my older brothers, like learning to drive, to change tires, how to shave and many others, has left me feeling at many times disconnected to reality. But when I step in that tiny plastic boat and am surrounded by the people I love most, I am brought back to the moments where I was a boy, where life was joyful, simple, and stress-free. Working nearly full-time throughout my college career, maintaining my near-perfect grades, involvement in two advocacy organizations, and holding leadership positions in our student government, and coming back home weekly to aid my parents in their chores, or my father’s small business has led to many overwhelming moments. These moments, I cannot help but crave the tranquility of my youth. Each summer on the lake, each calming paddle down the river, and most importantly a feeling of connectedness with my family. So, to answer the question, the ability to be in my kayak is to be able to transcend time and be grounded in my life. When life starts to slip away and I feel overwhelmed, I am blessed with the ability to travel back and time with my kayak. And so, I kayak on, in the hopes that one day I will once again hit the water with more than just a memory of my father.

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