You know those bad days when everything that can go wrong does? We all suffer through one from time to time. Yesterday I had one of those days. Throughout my entire day at work I felt "off."
I got a late start driving to Portland for my evening dragon boat practice, and when I reached the marina, I wasted time searching for cheaper street parking. Realizing I was very late, I parked in a more expensive parking garage, grabbed my paddle and gear bag and started running along the marina promenade.
In the distance I spied my teammates, who already had finished their warm-up exercises and were walking down the gangway to the dock. I kept running, but realized I likely would miss the boat. That would be the perfect ending to a hard day.
But I ran faster and caught up with my team down on the dock. Most of them already were in the boat.
"You're late!" coach Jeanie said.
I strapped on a life vest, hurriedly climbed into the boat, and while I was attempting to sit, I fell over backward and flopped around like a fish. My teammates burst out laughing.
My first thought was, "Maybe I should have just stayed home. Why did I think I could paddle today?"
But I pulled myself up, got into position, closed my eyes, and took some deep breaths.
"You can do this," I reassured myself.
Then the most amazing thing happened: I found my mojo!
Somehow, my brain and my body finally understood everything I've been learning on my previous four paddling practices. The position of my body, the powerful stroke, the following through and keeping in rhythm with my fellow paddlers all came together in this zen experience.
I dug into the water with confidence, and with each stroke, I exhaled a gutteral "whoo" that seemed to boost my power and my awareness of how I was one with my teammates as we pulled together to glide across the Willamette River on a starlit night.
I forgot all about my bad day and was aware only of my stroke, and the next stroke, and the next. Nothing else mattered.
We paddled under two bridges. Then coach Jeanie mercifully called: "Let it run." That's the signal for us to stop paddling, pull our blades from the water and let the boat coast while we take a short break. We reached for our water bottles..
My seatmate commented, "You're really paddling tonight."
I smiled and took a deep drink of water.