For four years now TRAK has been eddying out and turning "Black Friday to Blue Friday" after US Thanksgiving. It has become a tradition for the TRAK Team and quite a few in our community to save the date for a paddle, rather than a purchase. We close our shop and head to the water.
Our theme for this year was codenamed "Blue Sabbath", after the heavy metal band, but is really a continuation of acknowledging that we're lucky to live in a rich, blue environment - and that it can be a struggle sometimes to protect, appreciate, and experience it to the fullest. That struggle can become a great source of meaning in life if you can shift your perspective to one "of power".
The struggle imbues meaning
When we reflect on what draws us out of the box and onto the water, we’re usually thinking about the fun, stoke, tranquility, and fulfillment that we get out of a few hours of paddling. Maybe we look forward to our weekly paddle along our standard “backyard route”, or are practicing and preparing for a nice bucket list trip a few months from now.
You could be paddling alone, with close friends or family, or you could be part of a formal group. Whatever your regular practice of paddling is, I’d be willing to bet that your most memorable and meaningful experiences were the ones that broke that mould under extraordinary circumstances.
The challenges we face can at times be very significant, ranging from the mundane or innocuous, to the potentially or definitely dangerous. Facing and overcoming challenges, on and off the water, imbues these experiences with a deep and tangible meaning. One of the most memorable moments this paddler can recall happens to be one of the most chaotic, unexpected, and ultimately growth-enabling times that I’ve ever been part of. Getting that close to “Deep Trouble” leaves an impression on you - here is the short version of what happened.
When paddling the West Coast of Vancouver Island in 2017, among a group of strong and seasoned paddlers, we encountered unexpected harsh conditions along a sheer and rocky section of coast - past the point of return, with no safe landing zones. We had to muscle through the beaufort 4-5 conditions.
With very real and apparent risks to myself, and the knowledge that others were exposed to the same danger, the situation required focus and perseverance to overcome. Myself and the paddler I made it through the worst of it with eventually connected with another pod of 4 paddlers near our landing zone. We performed surf landings, and then with bated breath awaited the arrival of the rest of our splintered group. Everyone made it back in one piece, but there was no way for us to know that until we saw coloured helmets and kayaks rounding a dangerous point break and lining up their own surf landings.
It’s what you take on that counts
Many lessons learned on the water can have a direct analogue to overcoming challenges in daily life. Professionally and personally, the humbling experiences we’ve had as sea kayakers have been a wellspring of guiding principles for the TRAK Team. It is no secret that our company has been challenged over the last few years with meeting delivery demands, and it's likely we would have absolutely failed in our mission if we had not kept our focus and grit, and had the support of our TRAK tribe around the world.
Paddling is invigorating for the body, and soothing to the soul. It is our tradition to close our shop, assemble some close friends and community members, and eddy out of the commercial chaos that erupts after Remembrance Day passes at this time of year. We call it “going from black to blue”, and let Black Friday pass us by while we get on the water.
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