I kayaked the Cheoah last weekend for the last time until the releases this fall. There are several warm ones coming up, but sadly I won’t be at any of them. It was a classic weekend: I packed my car with clothes and food, grabbed a dog, and headed to the river. I kayaked with some of the most badass women (and men) I know, stayed at random houses, went to a party, and pretty much made decisions about what to do by the minute. That’s the perfect kind of weekend.
The kayaking was amazing. Cheoah is just pure fun. Big waves, splashy holes, and fast rides. It was sad to think that it was the last run I’d have until this fall, but I know it’s for a good cause.
Life is all about sacrifice. We like to say we’re living the dream in the outdoor industry, since most of us get paid to do what we love. The truth is, the dream comes at a price. While 9-5ers are enjoying weekend Cheoah and afternoon Green runs all summer, most of us look forward to our one day off in July, then find ourselves collapsing for most of it. Or doing laundry. Or day drinking and watching Netflix. Or getting our oil changed.
But, it all pays off when we stuff our lives into four plastic boxes, pack a duffel, and head off for months at a time. Recognizing that our lives have a balance, one that looks different from the one society has designed but is a balance all the same, helps us stay positive and happy while we’re busy “living the dream” for countless days in a row.
Life is about balance, and finding it. Balance comes at a cost, however. That’s where the sacrifice comes in. When I first got back from Pro Leisure tour, flying in straight from skiing at Alta, I had a week of a somewhat turbulent adjustment period. I didn’t want to get out of bed in the mornings, I didn’t want to eat, and I wasn’t sure what was going to happen next.
Luckily, I have good friends, and one day we all met for a quick afternoon lap on the North Fork of the French Broad. I also found out I had gotten the job as Operations Manager at Green River Adventures (GRA from now on). I found an apartment. I went kayaking some more. I drove around in my car buying donuts and getting massages. And I realized that my life was still spectacular. I realized that life was throwing a lot at me, and I was dealing with it. Just like I do on the river. I can’t control what the river will throw at me, but I can control how I react. I can use balance to help me get where I want to go.
So, life got a little complicated and confusing. And the thing I know is I can always count on that. But I can also count on my ability to find balance in the chaos. If I’ve learned anything from kayaking, it’s that staying calm is the best way to deal with anything. Balance is what allows me to thrive in a dynamic and fluid environment. Society has conditioned us to believe that balance means a Monday through Friday, 9-5 job with weekends off and 2/1 house we rent with a new (ish) Toyota and weekends at the beach in May. But the balance I want is months of hard, rewarding work, and months of exploring and adventure. I’m willing to sacrifice for that balance.
do not choose the lesser life.
do you hear me.
do you hear me.
choose the life that is. yours.
the life that is seducing your lungs.
that is dripping down your chin.
― Nayyirah Waheed