Out of all the lessons I learned during my recent two-day white-water kayaking adventure on the Cheakamus River in Squamish, BC; the power of commitment proved the most effective.
Paddling on white-water is like living life in fast motion. You don’t have the luxury of time for decisions or chances to renege. You are powered by reactions, to the water and the obstacles around you. You must choose your direction and commit to it; then paddle to get there despite what happens in-between. Anything less and you’ll end up hitting the rocks, floundering in the waves or getting trapped beneath the trees.
To successfully steer into a narrow eddy or surf a challenging wave, you need commitment. If you give it a half-hearted effort you’re bound to miss or be swept away with the current. But if you’re committed to the direction you want to go and keep your eye on the prize, even if you overshoot or stray by a fraction, strength and determination will get you there.
This idea of commitment can obviously be applied to all things in life, but I never realised just how necessary it was until I witnessed its immediate consequence on the water first hand during the field course.
Music: The Temper Trap, Sweet Disposition
I believe what got me across the border to Canada on the PCT was a commitment from the very beginning to finish the trail; no matter what the circumstances or conditions, providing my body could propel me there.
Strength of mind is more powerful than muscle, and a long distance hike like the PCT is certainly not just about physical endurance. I think any thru-hiker would agree that at least half the challenge is mental. Mood alone can determine your energy levels that day. It’s a lot easier to hike 30 miles jacked up on serotonin than it is when you’re feeling down.
I’d like to say I’m a person who follows through on commitments, but I also think very carefully about what I commit to first. When I tell someone I’m going to do something, it means I’m 100% committed to doing so, unless powers out of my control prevent me.
Someone at the store today asked me what’s next after the PCT. I have asked myself this question numerous times, and there are countless options I wish to explore. I have some ideas in mind, but I won’t be sharing them until I’m 100% committed! 😉
In the short term I’m continuing to explore the trails and waterways of BC, having recently hiked up to Black Tusk and Panorama Ridge near Lake Garibaldi. Next month I’m hiking the West Coast Trail, my first real multiday hike since the Camino. The trail is only a meagre 75kms (47 miles), but it’s said to be demanding, and I believe my biggest challenge will be learning to compromise. I have become incredibly used to solo travel, my own habits, routines and making my own decisions. I’m doing this hike together with my friend Steve, who has been my hiking and camping companion throughout the summer. We share a passion for the outdoors, equal fitness levels, similar hiking pace, and both love to analyse life, people’s behaviours and the complexity of the world; ensuring we’re never short of conversation. But it will be interesting to see how two incredibly independent, self sufficient and opinionated people (when it comes to wilderness travel at least), team up over a period of four or five days.
Thankfully we are both lovers of logistics and documentation, so I’m looking forward to sharing my gear list, food menu, and tips for hiking the trail once the adventure is over. It’s one of the most expensive trails to hike in Canada (or anywhere I’ve ever known) – with permits alone costing over $100, not to mention the cost of ferries, the bus back to the start point, and getting over to Vancouver Island. But I guess it’s something you only ever do once.
I should also mention that I’m no longer required to move house, which I somewhat attribute to the power of manifesting reality. Up until the end of July, I truly believed that I wouldn’t need to move out of the room I was subletting. There was no evidence, suggestion or reason why this would be the case; and although I still wanted to believe it, I eventually gave up and secured another room. But just recently the roommate decided he was not going to return, which means that less than two weeks before the move, I’m now in exactly the position I had hoped to be in. In some respects I’m not that surprised, as I’d almost expected it to pan out this way. I did feel guilty cancelling on the room I’d secured, but thankfully because the rental market in Vancouver is so saturated, it took the woman less than a day to find someone else, so she kindly offered me back my deposit.
In addition to my lessons on commitment this week, I have also recently been reminded that positivity breeds positivity, and that positive thinking can create endless possibilities.
15 thoughts on “Commitment”
Dead on! Think in advance, but once you choose your direction commit! Hernan Cortez…landed his expedition in the new world, made his plans, then burned his ships to prevent anyone from losing focus or commitment. Always loved the shear guts of a decision like that. Motion forward..no looking back!! Black tusk looks excellent. I need to get up there to hike someday! Have fun on your multi-day, and glad you got to keep your room. Yeah, it’s like you knew it’d work out. I need to some 3-4 day trips and get my gear sorted out.
Thanks Gromit! Luckily I haven’t had to burn any ships of my own, but I love that story too. The nature up here is utterly stunning. I could hike around here for the rest of my life and still make new discoveries!
Sounds like my kind of place!
Roz, your description and comparison of canoeing and shooting rapids to life’s choices is 100 % smack on! Having done a lot of canoeing in my youth ( Google -Dusi Canoe marathon) and having destroyed a number of fibreglass and carbon fibre canoes due to picking the wrong route and then trying to change course instead of committing to the chosen route, taught me the same lessons! I hope you’ll be blogging your hike with Steve- I’ll certainly be looking forward to it. Best wishes, Gary Perth WA
Hi Rozanne….I love your analogy about commitment …. surfing the waves of the ocean is just about the same…you see a wave is coming and get into the position that you have learned will get you into place to take off and ride it…if you see that you have moved to a position where you might get smushed to the sea floor that can sometimes hurt you or it can just tumble you around…sometimes see a big swell coming that is really know that you can’t handle it….way too big….(I loved about 3 to 4 feet high waves)….but one time I surfed in Mexico. I saw a hump called an indicator showing that a big wave was coming and where it would be… I was sure I could surf it.. it was BIG…about 7 feet high….So I lined myself where I could I catch it. The funny part about it that really is also very much about being committed is seeing and conquering obstables…(sp?) ….In this case I was surfing between guys sitting on their boards waiting for a wave and they kept yelling, “Oh, my god, it’s a woman!”… and I kept yelling back to them, “Stay where you are and I will surf around you!” …. and I did….didn’t hit any of them….smiling….
I see a lot in this sport of surfing (like your example of canoeing and backpacking) that involves doing it, no matter what…..
Love what is happening in your heart and mind as you grow up….which, by the way, I am still doing…and will continue to do until I cease to be. Love to you, Sweetie!!
I love hearing your stories about surfing. In fact, I enjoy every one of your life stories you share with us. I think we could sit down for months and never run out of things to talk about!! Thanks again for your thoughtful words Barbie.
I just looked up the Dusi in South Africa!! Looks awesome!! I hope you still get out on the water from time to time!! It’s TBC if I’ll blog from the trail, but I’ll certainly be writing about it afterwards.
Yea! Can’t wait to hear about your next adventure. Still suffering from “Muk Muk withdrawal” after all this time!
Haha! Well you know I can’t sit still for long, although I’ve spend almost a record amount of time in the one city this year which is very impressive for me! Thank you for continuing to share my journey.
So good to FEEL your happiness in your words
I’m glad my mood can be transmitted through my words, for I am truly happy. I’m curious to know what adventures you and the team have been on recently!! Love to you all!
Haha, you’re ears must have been buzzing, as you were the topic of conversation yesterday in about 5 classrooms. Still sharing the PCT and your videos with the children. Always good to read of your adventures. Judi Hynan
Ah Judi, this note reminded me of the morning when I was sitting at Timberland Lodge in Northern Oregon, with over 500 miles of the PCT still ahead of me; and you told me for the first time you were sharing my story and videos with your school kids. My heart morphed into a pack of fluttering butterflies, lifting my spirits to unimaginable heights. Thank you for allowing me to inspire from a distance and please send my love to any of the children who I was fortunate enough to meet. That experience was the most magical way to complete my 6-month adventure. Hugs to you Mother-Muk
I love your comparison of kayaking to life commitments. Thoughtful and great piece! It’s wonderful to see you enjoying the outdoors.
It’s been my most active summer since 2013! Hope you guys have been out enjoying the trail and the outdoors too over these past few months! Let me know what new adventures are on the horizon! 🙂