A Ph D in Sea Kayaking?
How smart/good do you aspire to become in kayaking? How do you keep score? Will there be a time when you decide you have "arrived" and know all you care to know and can do all you care to do in that skinny little sea kayak of yours? For some of you the answer will be yes or "I am already there." That is, you are content with your skills and (hopefully) paddle within the conditions that are safe for you.
For others (this is me raising my hand) it is not such a simple question. For many who are bright, curious, over achievers, have ADD, are obsessive-compulsion, etc. or a combination of them all there is no end in sight. We press on looking for new challenges (not necessarily dangerous ones) and new goals to keep ourselves interested and challenges. We take a certain satisfaction from knowing that we are growing in the sport. We have a need for more. More skill and, for me, more knowledge.
And, we each go about our quest differently.
For some it is a matter of paddling more often and in more challenging conditions (with competent partners). For some it is attending symposiums and taking what I call the detail classes such as working on the forward stroke, doing rescue scenarios and the like. For some others it is taking a deep breath, deciding that they have the basics needed and signing up for an IDW with an eye toward qualifying via an ICE and becoming a certified instructor. An amazing number of us have been there.
Does there, I wonder, come that time when enough is enough? If so, what determines that time? Is it physical limitations? Boredom? Job/family obligations? Age? Whoa, wait. Age? I think not.
Speaking for myself, I have realized the need to progress in this sport that I have come to love and respect and from which I have derived so much pleasure. You also need to know that my passion in life is to teach, so it is no surprise that I worked and practiced and eventually became an L4 certified instructor (some would say certifiable, but I digress). One soon learns, however, that constantly teaching beginners is an excellent way to become a lesser paddler. I didn't want that to happen and, so, even at my age (I am over 40...ok, 50...ok, older) I have decided to train to be an IT (instructor trainer).
Suddenly a new world has opened to me. Now, in addition to on water skills, I am dealing with classroom teaching, even teaching learning and teaching theory and the like. My mentor, Sam Crowley, is a task master and never sells me short. He insists on it being done right and gives me excellent feedback in the areas in which I need improvement. For my part, I feel like I am still learning and growing, I am involved physically and mentally. I am challenged. I feel youn(er). I am going for my PhD (to add to my MD).
I invite each of you to see if you have reached your level of potential in kayaking (or anything else in your life) and whether or not it is time to take on a new challenge.