Relationship Lessons on a Kayak



The breeze was gentle. The mild sea mirrored the deep blue of the sky. The afternoon seemed perfect. A client who specialises in water sport services, had invited a colleague and myself to try our hand at kayaking.

Before I proceed, I have to warn you that this is not a story on what a ripping sport kayaking is. Or its health and fitness benefits (though I’m sure there are many.) Rather, it’s about what I learnt while sharing the kayak with another companion.

We were strapped into a kayak built for two. In the beginning, it was easy going. It seemed simple enough. All we had to do was paddle in unison and edge our way in the direction we chose using the paddles.

The sea was calm, making it easier for two beginners. So we began paddling. Fast and excitedly at fast. A little slower when our arms began to strain. Our elbows and core were soon aching and we found it harder than ever to propel the kayak forward.

The breeze suddenly grew stronger. Our already painful limbs were now miserably overstretched, trying to gain some ground against the wind. If that wasn’t enough, we spotted a wave in the distance, threatening to break right over our kayak. Inspite of the aches and pains, we paddled furiously. But regardless of our best efforts, the wave crashed onto us with all its might.

We almost capsized, but managed to stay afloat by sheer will and some desperate paddling. We had finally had enough. The next minute, we gestured to the instructor and got ourselves and our tortured limbs out of the confounded thing.

I didn’t know at the time that I would carry this experience with me. After all, I’ve had better days.

But off late that memory has crept onto me. Stealthily at first. And then a little more urgently. It’s knocked on the recesses of my quiet time, until I’ve had no choice but to relate it here.

Imagine that the Kayak represents the relationship you have with your significant other. In the beginning, it’s all fresh, new and exciting. Smooth sailing. But once life gets monotonous, the cracks begin to show. Just a minor little strain here and there. Until the strains turn into persistent disquieting pains. And there are more bad days than good. More disagreements. And less hunky dory. The quiet romantic dinners are replaced with grumbling across the kitchen table. The long conversations turn into cold silences.

And when the first crisis hits, things begin to reel out of control. You want to put the paddle down, but you can’t because your partner is tired too. And if you don’t stay afloat, you’ll die. It takes a lot of effort from both sides to keep going. But it’s taken it’s toll on the both of you.

You are just about congratulating yourselves on surviving the first obstacle, when you are hit by a wave of trials, worse than before. An affair, a financial crisis, errant children, sickness, loss of trust, troublesome in-laws. And now you have no idea how or if you’re going to make it.

Even if you want to, you’re not sure your partner does. And if both of you do, you don’t suppose that you have the mettle it takes. All you can do is hold on tight, sometimes in desperation, until the storm blows over.

And when the storm recedes, you have three choices:

  1. You can choose to get off the boat and never get back into one again. You may prefer the solitary exercise of swimming to sailing.
  2. You can choose to stay in the kayak and mosey along until both of you learn to get past those obstacles. Together!!
  3. Or you can choose to paddle with a brand new partner. But you would still be sailing the same old stormy sea.

What about you? If relationships were kayaks, would you sail, swim or sink? 





6 thoughts on “Relationship Lessons on a Kayak

  1. Such an interesting analogy your story presents, about life’s difficulties of maintaining a relationship. I can only answer from own attempts at paddling together, not counting my very early adolescent courtships, I’ve basically had 3 significant bondings. The first one was my long time marriage, a beautiful smooth paddle until the unnatural forces struck, but we stayed bound lovingly together until those forces dragged out of the love boat and took her away forever. After that unfortunate voyage I somehow fell into another little paddle boat built for two, and I thought we were in unison for 3 years, then suddenly she snatched my paddle off me, and told me to jump out. And I had to swim ashore by myself. Then my recent little kayaking venture for two, the 6 months of calm seas, become beached in the shallows, and she walked away, and left me an empty kayak that shrank to one man paddle. And no more kayaking.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks again Ivor for reading. I’m happy that you’ve managed to have at least 3 significant bondings, as you call them. It shows that you’re willing to at least try. I’m disappointed that the women in question didn’t paddle along with you. I hope you find someone worthy and deserving of you to sail with you soon. Sometimes, I often feel I’m better off alone. But then I would miss all the lovely times that relationships invariably bring.


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