When I paddled with the Mississauga Canoe Club I would see the good ones riding the wash that another canoe or kayak was creating. They’d get into the wake and keep their body weight on the down side of the wave coming off of the other boat so it would push them along. It was a skill and when it worked, it saved a lot of energy. When the wave passed you though, you were screwed. Paddling a sprint canoe through the wash of another boat is a different sport. Point the front of the boat, paddle hard and hope for the best. Most of the time they would open up water between you and you’d find matching their speed became possible only when you drift back and out of the random waves they’ve left. It was messy water if you ended-up falling behind. Washed-out is what it felt like.
I did find some comfort in the calmness of the water after the wash goes away. There was a lot of frustration there because there could be. It was easy to berate myself for falling off the wave because I wasn’t trying to hang on anymore. The choppy water was gone, as though it needed some time to regroup and consider its options before trying to tip the next person into the drink. The washed-out survivors were spared the waters torment and given the chance to think or learn from the previous few minutes. The great ones stuck by the water and became national level athletes. I moved on, replacing relationships and work for the water and trying to ride their wash. Sometimes unsuccessfully.
In the wake of destruction there is silence. There is a flattened landscape void of potential, void of anything that was how things just were. If left standing, one is lucky and slightly damaged. That’s all that’s needed. The damage means they’ll try to avoid that type of thing again. They’ll be a little wiser when it comes to the wash of life, at least in terms of how their choices got them this time round. They’re lucky because they got washed-out and can take a rest in the calmer seas. That race is over, the lesson given. They can now look around with a shifted attitude that lets new or previously impossible thoughts bounce around. There’s a liberation in failing that you don’t get with continuing. There is a massive boost in mental resources. As the brain releases from the battle it can focus on managing the lessons and taking the most out of the experience.
In time things begin again and with enough time those things will be new.