A few days ago in an invigorating, gusty 12-15 knot easterly, I kayaked around an unnamed island and it waved to me. Yea, like it was alive and had an identity, it waved back...not some casual..."Hi there, yellow banana."
More like "Anyone order a banana smoothie or daiquiri?"
I had anticipated this kind of reception and was prepared to respond consciously. A simple nod seemed appropriate, saying "Yes, I see you and aren't you frisky today. And no, I placed no such order. I'll wave ya if or when I'm ready."
She (why female?) had already been waving when I paddled by. I did not wave first. In fact, her frenetic waves were no reaction to my sudden appearance. Nevertheless, she spit and splashed at me, telling me in so uncertain terms I was unwelcome. Like some ex-English teacher grandmother with a rolled up newspaper in hand shooing away the neighbor's menacing, barking Rottweiler off the back porch. "Go away, you interloper!...go back where you belong. Shoo."
A steady stream of westerly driven waves bounced off its jagged coral and sent reverberations back towards their source. This action-reaction made the sea very choppy, and I felt more like the hot potato off a hot grill being tossed around like a real game of hot potato on the water.
Then I suddenly thought myself very clever when "tempest in a teapot" came to mind...a nearby island named Tea Table Cay sparked that gem. The tossed, turned and churned I tried to ignore as my dinner choices were dwindling by the moment.
Unperturbed by this churning turbulence, yet somehow touched by its wet greeting, I paddled onward keeping my balance. A few thoughts how I would fair if a swamping wave should knock me over and suck me into the coastal cutlery entered my soggy skull. Not a thought I lingered on for long as carving sliced sirloin suddenly had been scratched from my evening cookout.
My experience and arm strength quickly calmed me down. I could see that I made forward progress (what other kind of progress is there? Backward?...you call yourself a writer?) rather easily despite the appearance of whitewater akin to the Colorado River rapids.
But what then surprised was the island had a visitor atop it who also waved to or att me paddling by below. A fellow cruiser had been kayaking at the same time on the other side of this coral head and had pparentlybsomehow managed to scale the sharp coral knives along the shoreline and the jagged lava-like terrain of the island. This daring shirtless young man stood tall as he waved as if to say "I'm king of this no-name island and wanted you to know its all mine". What you naming it, Columbus? my brain wanted to bellow: "Cut Cay? Sliced Sirloin Cay? Minced-Meeting-U Cay? Wave Cay?"
As I gave him a friendly paddle and head nod to acknowledge his conquest, I proceeded forward ( "proceed" is only forward, goofball) to the nearby cut where the ebbing tide and the wind waves were exchanging pleasantries like any two boxing adversaries as they pass each other in a hallway corridor. They say hello with a couple of quick jabs to the gut followed by a water bottle toss to the face...just a friendly gesture to let your competition know who is the Man. Boxers' greeting for "say hello to my little friend."
I noticed the current strongest in the center of the cut; where the waves were biggest ( I already mentioned I was experienced), but what felt odd at the time was the ebbing current was swirling around the edges and causing a kind of backwash on both sides of the friendly razor sharp 15 yard or so opening. I quickly deduced staying close to the sides might result in a close shave. Ah, another brilliant deduction why the Bahamians call these "cuts". As I padded down the middle against the strongest current, the thought of oatmeal, not hamburger, for dinner seemed more appetizing crossed my brain waves.
I quickly ascertained I was stronger than this sucker, no sucker-punching me as I pass him in the passageway. In a surprise deft move, the current raised me on its shoulders as if I had claimed premature victory and slid my yellow banana down into the relatively tranquil wave-less western side of young Columbus' no-named island. I felt a sudden exhilaration as I had been lifted by the waves as I quickly reconsidered more tasty dinner selections once again.
When I reached Mystique (paddling forward), I thought about how I had reacted to all that waving and adulation. I thought I had left him behind on the boat but my waving adoring fans and my waving back boosted my ego. He snuck aboard my yellow banana. And he said "Yea, easy bout, that sucker punch against the current champ, Nature ain't so tough, paddled through the ringer and washer without a cut, catching that wave into your serenity, sweet, way to go, Champ. And how about that crowd waving, calling out to you, parading you down that watery gauntlet. And your classy nod to the adoration, priceless!"
And all that time I thought the waves were waving to knock out. They knocked me about, but I waved back at them all and slipped through the cut without a scratch. Ah, the yellow banana appeal!
What's for dinner?
What my brain waves attempted to show through my kayaking:
- Paddling a kayak is a metaphor for life.
- Waves come in many forms
- Waves mean many things.
- Human interpretation is often skewed
- Nature's energy is chaotic
- Humans define nature in their terms, not in Nature's.
- Ego is insanity. It wants to fight and win.
- Ego blinds us to the essence of a moment.
- The voices in our heads overwhelm reality.
- Fear can protect or cause unnecessary worry.
- Planning ahead is illusory.
- Labels diminish rather than enhance an experience.
- Struggle helps to build understanding.
- Nature is all powerful.
- Brain waves hello and goodbye.