I risk shoulder injury, back injury, drowning, falling to death, and many more possible outcomes. I live on the edge and mistakes are very costly. Putting myself on the line has become the routine. The progression is higher, faster, and bigger. How big will I go before I must turn away? Do I have the ability to save a friend when they depend on me? Will it ever be my turn to witness tragedy?
On the river you don’t get many second chances. Every time you lose control you submit yourself to your fate on the river. This danger is the allure. When kayaking it is never you against the river. The river is a platform for you to battle yourself. When you put in to kayak a dangerous river you must be prepared physically and mentally. The river will test your bravery, skills, and resolve. You must have the right gear, skills, and crew. When things start to go wrong you have to pull yourself out of a bad mental space to make sure you can finish the run unharmed. Most of the time you can walk around the waterfall in front of you, but walking a waterfall you intended to do is a submission to yourself. By walking you submit that you aren’t as good as you thought you were. You have to be honest with your abilities. There isn’t much room for egos when lives are on the line.
What are the possible rewards? The feeling of triumph from conquering yourself. The strength that is built from continually testing yourself in the face of danger. The comradery developed with those that choose to test themselves with you and trust you with their life if things were to spiral out of their control. The discovery of what it feels like to be alive.
This lifestyle has given me so much. It has given me great friendships, unforgettable experiences, and transformative reflections. If I hadn’t found kayaking I fear I’d be struggling with the questions I have been able to start answering now.
Is the risk worth it? I don’t have the ability to answer that. Why do I take these risks then? The idea of not pursuing my dreams and living my life to its potential is almost as scary as dying.