I am so happy when I’m kayaking. Like many human beings, my life has a tendency to become very routine. Routines are comforting for sure, but they also encourage us to use the same old habits, coping mechanisms and strategies that worked in the past, stunting our personal growth and making life bland.
Learning something new – especially using faculties that we don’t normally use – is what I call ‘routine busting.’ As someone who makes a living using a computer in an office, kayaking has been an incredibly routine busting activity for me.
The hallmarks of routine busting activities include:
- An activity that requires your full attention (consciousness) to learn
- An activity that enables you to see your ‘normal’ routines and beliefs about yourself being challenged or called into question
- An activity where you have to listen more intently for new solutions to challenges
- There is usually some type of “high” or new-found feeling of accomplishment
Kayaking in the Pacific Northwest in Puget Sound is breathtakingly beautiful. As a relative newcomer to kayaking, it is also something that causes me to pay attention and use all my senses because I’m building new habits and learning new skills. Water temperatures in Puget Sound range from 45 to 53 degrees so these new habits and skills are an important part of protecting myself from an accidental encounter with hypothermia, a leading cause of water-related deaths in the Pacific Northwest.
Kayaking challenges many of my core beliefs and ways of being. I am independent and introverted. I also grew up with the belief that I am strong and can do anything I set my mind to. In a nutshell, I am fiercely self-reliant and don’t often want to ask for help. At 50-years-young, kayaking imposes physical limitations and is all too quick to reveal my weaknesses and what I don’t know. While I kayak solo most of the time, I am reliant on coaches and networking with other kayakers to learn to new skills, tips and tricks.
In kayaking, it’s also necessary that I stay “tuned in” and read the signals around me. The mixture of winds, tides and currents can make paddling conditions unpredictable and listening for nature’s rhythms and adjusting paddling accordingly is a necessity. Because of this, the worries, stresses and thoughts of the routine world slip away and the world around me is vivid again.
What routine-busting activity do you enjoy? What have you learned or been reminded about yourself when you do it?