Paddle Boat

I hate “better living” essays. It always feels like someone is smugly looking at you from the other side saying: Just go vegetarian! Hug a pony! Kale smoothies will change your aura to gold! If you smile, the cosmos align!

This may seem ironic from my current position as a creator of a blog purely dedicated to improving my life, but still.

Honestly, I hate them because it’s so much harder than all that. It takes a lot of work to change. I don’t know about you, but an apathetic Netflix marathon is all too often my default setting (and yes, the Star Trek collection is glorious).

More than all that, I think these lists add to the quick-and-easy-guaranteed-fix-all results we’ve come to expect in American culture. And if it’s not perfect right away, we go on to the next fad. As a perfectionist myself, I fall easily into this trap. If I’m not really good at it RIGHT NOW, I’m apt to move on.

It’s this instinct I’ve been thinking a lot about as I learn to kayak. P’s parents are letting us borrow a couple kayaks for the summer and I’m certifiably obsessed. From my quiet perch on the lake, I’ve watched a bald eagle, fish in handclaws, swoop over my head to her nest. I’ve been surrounded by a cloud of swallows catching bugs at dusk. I’ve scared the geese (muahaha).

As peaceful as it is, I’m not a very good paddler. I’ve watched the videos, I remind myself of the technique, but I cannot direct this boat. I end up using the paddle as a rudder so I don’t hit things. I hurt my shoulder muscles by tending to one side too much.

Despite all that frustration, I still love it. I still go out on the boat as often as weather permits. I want to push through my flirtation with an abundance of activities and see if I can really, deeply master one.

Now if only I could get this thing to stop turning left.

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“To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart.” ~Phyllis Theroux

Dispatch this week to Ace!

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