2014 turned out to be quite a wild ride and unfortunately not always a train I wanted to be on. I started off writing this year review as your average blow by blow break down of 2014, but if you are a regular reader to this blog, or follow my movements through my Facebook Athlete page, Instagram and Twitter (which has way more regular updates than here anyway) you will already be well versed in where I have been and so on. SO what I really wanted to share is some of the lessons I have learned in the last 12 months, and how I came to be there.
-We are/I am not indestructible
-Life is precious
-Appreciate for those around you
-Our life in years is more important than our years in life
Now I know you are thinking “Seth, that is a profound amount of meaningless drivel your are spouting” but stick with me and i’ll talk you through how I got there, unless you aren’t interested in which case I have put a few pics at the bottom to scroll through and i’ll catch you next time.
1. We are/I am Not indestructible.
Everybody crashes and from time to time I have taken my fair share, both on the river and off. More often than not crashes can cause injuries sometimes minor sometimes major and up until this year I had always escaped with the minor injuries, the cuts and bruises, the bruised tail bone, the sore shoulders, mild tendonitis and stiff back and neck. Usually these are easily remedied and although you always have the possibility of injury on the back of your mind it isn’t something I think about everyday. Until this January when my first try at skiing left with what turned out to be quiet the saga of torn ligaments, surgeries, re-hab, physiotherapists, crutches and so on. As it transpired this would not be a quick fix injury with the forecast time to full recovery being 12 months, and even then it will never be exactly the same as it was before.
Throughout the saga, especially in the days immediately post surgery there have been alot of times where I am alone. Time where I have been able to reflect on injuries and the bearing they can have on life. It would be very easy to wallow and say ‘this is it, my life is over’ but like so many things the much harder thing is to see it as what it is, just a setback. I guess it all comes down to motivations. Without getting into too much boring detail about intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and how they steer my life, and the lives of others affected by semi-serious injuries
I will simply summerise the philosophies I have gained as I go through this journey of recovery and that is to say “Be careful to find the balance between life and re-injury” and of course “If you can still go kayaking it then that is fine by me”. Remember we all break, but don’t let the fact you might get broken rule you.
2. Life is Precious
Late November 2014 I woke up to find out about the tragic loss of a good friend of mine, Juanito De Ugarte from Peru. I first met Juan on the Ottawa in 2013 and we were both part of the epic First Descents: Michoacan project which took place in Nov 2013 and aired on Red Bull TV April 2014. I still struggle to put into words what a loss this is both personally and for the Whitewater kayaking community as a whole. The Christmas issue of Online E-Zine thepaddler.co.uk carried a really good article about Juanito written by Mariann Saether using some photos I took whilst in Michoacan. Check it out here (http://www.joomag.com/magazine/thepaddler-ezine/M0151422001368812110) .
In the weeks surrounding Juan’s passing I was bowled over by the amount of lives he had touched beyond just my own. It was whilst reading through these that I came to the conclusion the lives we have are precious. They certainly will not last forever so it is extra important not to take them for granted and don’t take for granted the lives of your friends and family either.
3.Appreciate for the people around you
Points one and two lead me into this quite naturally in my mind. I would have had a much more difficult time to get out from under the depressive weight of injury if I wasn’t lucky enough to have people around me, that goes from my family (especially my parents and my sister who at one stage were delivering food and cups of tea and coffee to me on my couch ‘island’ spot), all the way to my friends who were contacting me out of the blue in droves to comfort me with stories of similar experiences, coping strategies, recommendations to watch on tv, books to read and of course the group I came to think of as the leg gang. Clay Wright, Kyle Hull and Eric Boomer, three kayakers, all of whom I stayed in regular contact with despite all of us being in different parts of the world we were all going through knee/leg surgeries and re-habs at the same/similar time and it was great to have other people who were sharing the experience. Equally people can disappear in a heartbeat so keep that in mind.
1. Life in years is more important than years in life
I get asked on a pretty regular basis questions like
- “when are you getting a real job”
- “what will you do when you want to retire”
- “What are you going to do when you want to buy a house”,
- “Are you even working at the moment”
The list goes on and on but the long and short of it is that this year, through all of the days away from my kayak, and all the days in my kayak has made me realise that the happiness is lots of different things to lots of different people. For me personally the idea of being in a secure job with all of the benefits that come with it, it just isn’t for me. That’s not to say it is not for everyone, and if doing the 9 ‘til 5 thing makes you happy then good on you but personally I am happy to be on the journey I am on and make the most of the experiences I am having. And since I am reminded this year as much as any, this life doesn’t last forever so make sure you are maximizing the life in your years.
That is pretty much all I have to say, this post certainly got a little deeper than I thought it would when I started out and thats often the way it goes. Looking forward to the other adventures of 2015, look out for a new website later in the year and stay up-to-date by hitting te follow button on my Facebook athlete page, Instagram and Twitter (Mostly not Twitter)
See you on the River,