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15 Life Lessons I Learned From Paddleboarding

I took up paddleboarding last year, and it's quickly become one of my favorite activities to invest my time in.

I love my work and still count the seconds until I can hit the water.

The cocktail of serenity, peace, and challenge is extraordinary.

Every morning for the past 8+ years, I write what I'm grateful for, it's a practice I began in prison, and the return on investment has exceeded anything I could have ever imagined.

This morning I wrote how grateful I am for yesterday's paddleboard session and a question I like to ask occasionally in my gratitude practice bubbled to the surface.


Why do I enjoy paddle boarding so much?

As I wrote my answers, a picture began to form, and it's so much more than the activity itself.

I see paddleboarding as a metaphor for life.

    1. Be present

    I'm one with my body when I'm standing on the board, feeling every undulation of the water and wind, observing the ever-changing being Mother Nature is. If I'm not present, I start heading the wrong way.

    2. Conditions change

    The water can become choppy very quickly (boats), and it can also become calm. The transition from calm to choppy is faster than choppy to calm.

    3. What's behind me

    What's behind me cannot move the board forward. I make more progress when focusing on where I'm going and not where I've been. And, if I turn around too much, I lose my balance and fall. I also lose my focus.

    4. Solitude and Connection

    It's just me, the board, and open water. I'm connected to something much more significant than myself. I have no sense of time when I'm out there. The more activities I engage in that create this feeling (writing), the richer and deeper my life becomes.

    5. Harmony

    The conditions are never the same, and I must adjust accordingly. To move forward, I must find harmony with whatever conditions are presented to me. I can't change the conditions, only how I respond to them.

    6. Fear

    I'm a terrible swimmer and feel fear when I get out into deep water. I come back to being present, and I understand what I fear is something that MAY happen.

    7. Perspective

    Related to fear. I can drown in 2 feet of water or 50 feet of water.

    8. Challenge

    Moving forward in whatever the conditions are is a challenge. I find joy, self-trust, freedom, and peace within that challenge.

    9. It's the Journey

    Sometimes I set a target to reach (maybe an island) or wing it: Either way, the journey is the reward.

    10. It's not a straight line

    Forward progress isn't a straight line. I get pushed and pulled, and that's ok.

    11. Gratitude

    Gratitude for how far I've come. When I turn around to head back, I take the time to appreciate how far I've come. Every time I've done this, I'm surprised by how far I traveled.

    12. I'm going to fall

    Falling is inevitable. If I'm challenging myself and moving forward in various conditions, I will fall.

    13. Fallings not the worse

    Falling isn't the worse thing that can happen; not getting back on the board and being stuck out in the open water is. As long as I keep getting up, that's all that matters.

    14. In Favor/Out of Favor

    Sometimes the wind and current are in my favor; other times, they're not. But I still move forward.

    15. Bring someone along

    Sometimes I travel alone; other times, my girlfriend joins me on the board. Bringing someone along on the journey far outweighs the minimal extra effort it requires to do so.

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