I remembered last night how I taught myself to row. Not in a manner that you could call good form or graceful but in a way that moves the boat in the direction you want it to, which is all I’m really concerned with.
I was thirteen, and on a family holiday in Canada. One morning I snuck off to the lake near where we were staying, got in a row boat I had scouted the day before and pushed myself away from the shore. What an adventure! Just me in a row boat. I don’t know how to row but that’s fine, I can work it out. An empty lake is the perfect place to figure it out.
I say this was a lake – it was mostly a lake. There was a river on the far side of it that seemed to claw the water towards it, and I soon realised that meant me as well. I started splashing with the oars, but nothing doing. Still heading towards that river. It looked like it dropped off fairly sharply. I hammered the water some more and progress in that I was now moving of my own volition! Except it was just around in circles as I continued being dragged riverwards. I could hear a roar of water now, and I didn’t want to discover what the source was.
Desperately, I thrashed and thrashed at the water. I was screaming now, just wanted to get away. A few minutes of this and I was exhausted. I set down the oars. Come what may.
But it was quieter now. Where was the roar? I looked around me and was astonished to find myself drifting towards the shore, momentum carrying me. I noticed a man standing on the side, waving at me. I struck up the oars again and manoeuvred towards him with less of a trash. As I approached, he waded in to his waist and pulled me in.
“You alright, kid?”
I felt compelled to continue. Before he could suggest something sensible, I pushed the oar against a tree that was leaning into the lake and with that I was drifting back out. The man shook his head.
It was fine though – I knew how to row now.
If I was writing a business manual, this would be an analogy for something. It wasn’t intended to be, though you can take your pick from this standard list:
(9, 592 – it’s creeping up)