Stay the Course: Adjustments and Awareness


By nature, I am a night owl. Getting up to paddle a kayak at sunrise does not appeal to me; however, experiencing God’s grandeur in nature appeals to me. Plus, the photographs from last year’s sunrise kayaking were gorgeous, so this year I got up with my friend Rozlin to paddle.

I found myself out of luck at 6 AM on my paddling morning because I couldn’t figure out the dang Keurig coffeemaker. Caffeine deprived and frustrated I made my way to the dock.  As I began to paddle, I was trying not to get soaked, trying to paddle with finesse, and trying to enjoy the only caffeinated beverage I could find (Diet Coke is NO substitute for a hot cup of coffee).

Once my sloppy rhythm began to smooth out a bit, I let go of my morning crankiness and looked around me and took in the beauty of the placid lake and morning quite. After a moment, I noticed I was veering off course and  thought of how paddling a kayak is just like making it through a class, a day, or even life.  



Veering off course, I thought of how the slightest change in the my paddling could get me back on course.  Just the slightest and finest adjustment could right my wrong. How like life this is:  when I veer a bit off course in a lesson, in my day, in my response to another person, often I only need to make a slight adjustment to make things right. This, of course, is when I’m paying attention, when I have an awareness, when my mind is in the present moment/situation.

However, when I’m paddling unaware: oblivious, unaware, or distracted, I can find myself turning into the wrong cove, paddling into my friend’s kayak, or otherwise wayyyyyy off course. Yes, these are the days that I didn’t plot my course and plan my lesson well and/or the days that I couldn’t navigate or fathom the direction my lesson would take. On these days, a fine tune adjustment is never enough–I can’t just paddle twice on the right side and find myself back on course.


When kayaking, I need to be aware of my current location, my intended destination, the weather, the wind/current, and my equipment. This is true in the classroom and life: I need to be aware of where I am, where I’d like to go, what might get in my way, and what tools I have. When I’m aware, I can more easily stay the course and reach my intended destination. I anticipate obstacles, I overcome struggles, and I move towards my destination.

As well, sometimes this awareness may change my course, yet rarely does it change my final destination. As Rozlin and I sought to find the sunrise, we realized that we needed to change our course in order to find the sun. We still sought the sunrise; however, we realized that we needed to paddle towards the other end of the lake. We paddled hard, we covered distance, we changed our course, and eventually the sun appeared over the trees and through the clouds with a shimmering reflection over the water.

Yes, in the class and life, when what I’m doing isn’t working, I change course a bit and continue to seek my destination. Had Rozlin and I just sat in one spot waiting for the sun, we would not have experienced the joy of the sun rays appearing through the clouds over the lake.

Having an awareness of where I am and where I’m going and knowing when I need to make adjustments are hugely important in knowing how to navigate the waters of life.

Part 2 will focus on response and routine. Response-how I respond when things aren’t going my way. Routine-how maintaining a rhythm and routine helps me stay the course.



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