I think recently turning 60 means that I am now officially considered an “old guy.” When you become an old guy, you aren’t quite as sure of yourself as you were when you were younger. As an old guy, it becomes easier to say no to new things. I think this propensity for saying no to anything new, goes hand in hand with yelling at little kids to “stay off the damn lawn!” Well, when asked about paddling a stand-up surfboard, on camera, on short notice, with no opportunity to practice, my inner, old guy voice said “hell no!”
But there are some things that come with being an old guy that are actually quite helpful. The first is you gain enough wisdom to not pass up a great opportunity to learn something. Secondly, you are able to let go of enough ego to go ahead and fail, even in front of others… even on camera! So, it was this more mature and evolved thinking that got me to paddleboard on a beautiful Saturday to help raise money for a horrible condition called Parkinson’s Disease.
As usual, my fears were completely overblown. I thought balancing on a “surfboard,” while standing up and paddling would take great balance and dexterity. I have neither. In reality, with some good instruction and about 15 minutes, anybody can be on the water enjoying this great experience.
My next fear was that now that I have learned to stand up on the damn thing, could I go a mile in a race? Again, my anxiety exceeded the reality. Frankly, I think this is a condition that plagues all of mankind, not just me. We are all needlessly afraid of what we don’t know or haven’t experienced. A mile was not a problem and I didn’t want to get off the thing when I crossed the finish line. I really like standup paddleboarding and I want to keep doing it!
I also came away with a huge amount of respect and inspiration, provided by a guy named Michael. Michael suffers from this horrible condition called Parkinson’s. Parkinson’s is a movement disorder, so paddling a kayak would be something quite challenging for a guy like Michael. Being able to paddle a mile seemed out of the question. But, unlike me, Michael is a courageous; never say no to anything kind of guy. Watching him overcome his physical challenges, to get that kayak around a mile course, was nothing short of awe inspiring. He was completely spent when he got to the finish line, to a full dock of people cheering and clapping in admiration. Many people on that dock had tears in their eyes and they all had inspiration and respect in their hearts and minds. Well done, Michael!
The bottom line is this: I now love stand-up paddleboarding! I want more of it as soon as I can. It’s an easy, clean, inexpensive, and healthy way to be on the water. Damn, there are so many fun things to do on the water, but so little time. So, remember, it ain’t the boat, it’s the float that matters! Oh, and remember to hang on to your dinghy too, which, quite frankly, is a bit tricky while you’re stand-up paddleboarding.