OK. So maybe I didn’t REALLY almost die. But at the time? I was nearly certain it was my last day.
Anyone who knows me well knows I’m not exactly an “extreme sports” gal. And coordination is not my strong point.
But last week, I was with two of my dear friends in Florida — two friends who whisked me away for a few days to reset from the grief of losing my dad. And my friend Kenna had her heart set on taking a stand-up pedalboard tour at St. Petersburg.
The promise on the website? A gorgeous view of water and nature, up close and personal. And even the chance to view manatees and dolphins as you float above them. How could I tell her “no?” Truly, I try to always give something a try at least once. So this was my one chance.
Risking my life. (OK. Not really.)
Our guide, Chris, was incredible. It was a beautiful, sunshiny day. And for someone with decent coordination? The stars were aligned for a perfect day.
However, I have never claimed to have decent coordination on this 6’2″ frame. Not even close. Chris took one look at me and said, “Wow, you’re tall. Really tall. That means you’ve got a high center of gravity. It’s going to be a little challenging, but you can do it.”
Sure I can, Chris. Sure. I. Can.
He sent my not-quite-as-tall friends, Kenna and Cindy, off with a brief overview. And they scuttled flawlessly past boats, over rippling waves and off on their adventure. Then he set his attention to keeping the tall gal upright. He offered tips on keeping my balance — countering steps down with weight on the handlebars. Keeping my eyes on the horizon, rather than on my feet.
For the first half hour of this 1 1/2-hour tour, I was terrified. Seriously terrified. Any gust of wind or slight wave had me spewing words not suitable for my grandma’s ears.
Chris reminded me the deepest the water ever reached was 10 feet. (Yes, only 10 feet. Hush.) When I groaned that I was about to die, Chris reminded me I could simply stand up if I fell off the board. The water was only to my knees. (I said, “Hush.”)
And gradually, a crazy thing happened.
I realized I just might live to see the end of the adventure.
I began to notice the fish swimming under my board.
I began admiring the water and waves.
I began taking in the sunshine and the breeze.
We even saw a dolphin just feet from Kenna and Cindy’s boards. Incredible.
And when the hour and a half were up, I was still upright. (And I had never been more relieved to have my feet on solid ground.)
It began to dawn on me. I wasn’t truly afraid of being hurt.
I was afraid of failure.
I didn’t want to fall off the paddle board because I didn’t want the embarrassment of failure.
Even though it was my first time ever to stand on one of those crazy contraptions. Even though I never, ever dream of a career as a professional paddle boarder. (Is that a thing?) Even though coordination isn’t my forte. Even though no beginner is ever expected to be perfect.
I expected myself to be perfect. And that’s just crazy.
Maybe that’s the great thing about taking new chances and trying new things — getting comfortable with not being “the best.” Getting comfortable with being the newby.
Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.
We simply can’t compare our beginning to someone else’s middle — no matter the situation.
Who knows? Maybe I’ll seek out more adventures in the future.
But next time, I’ll keep my feet on solid ground.
Special thanks to Chris with Walk on Water Pedalboard Tours for keeping me alive. And for being a pretty awesome guide, period. And extra special thanks to Kenna and Cindy for a wonderful girls’ getaway. Just what this gal’s heart needed.