Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Conoeing at the Dentist's

Early this morning, I wrote the article that follows below. I thought that you might enjoy reading it. Before reading it, however, perhaps some background information to put it in context would be useful to you. I have been a member of the Lower Columbia Canoe Club for the last twenty years. The article was written for the club. I paddled a canoe on whitewater with the club until last May when I switched to an IK, as my legs and knees would no longer tolerate the compression of kneeling in a canoe.

I am new to rafting. Last September, I joined OWA and bought my first raft. I have found rafting to be great fun. I now have a play cat on order.

Canoeing at the Dentist

by Gordon Taylor

Have you ever paddled your canoe while having a tooth drilled at the dentist? Even with Novocain, I hate having a tooth drilled, so I need some way of refocusing my mind from the drill grinding into my tooth. Only by imagining paddling my canoe have I been able at the dentist to refocus my mind. Nothing else has ever worked.

At the dentist, I always paddle on the Middle Fork of the Salmon in the cool early-morning sunshine. The other boats in my group are ahead of me or behind me, but they are always out of sight, so it is as if I am alone on the river. In my mind’s eye, I can feel the body mechanics of my forward stroke. I am in no hurry. I want to move my canoe only a bit faster than the current so as to be able to guide it. I want to move slowly to allow enjoying all that I am traveling through. I want to move quietly, so that I do not startle wildlife. In my mind’s eye, I can feel my torso rotating forward to plant the blade for the next stroke. I can feel the blade plant and then catch. I can feel my torso unwinding and my paddle coaxing my canoe gently forward. I lean my canoe gently left, and I can feel the hull carve left. I lean my canoe gently right, and I can feel the hull carve right. I can feel my canoe carving gently back and forth. There is no need to carve; I carve just for fun; I carve just to feel the canoe carve. And with each stroke, I also can feel the canoe glide. I take a stroke, and then I pause momentarily while I enjoy feeling my canoe glide forward. For me, the magic of canoeing has always been the feel of the unique body mechanics of canoe paddling, the feel of my canoe carving, and the feel of my canoe gliding. For me, the combination of whitewater rivers and canoeing has always been absolute magic!

I am writing this in the middle of the night. I woke up awhile ago wondering if I could still paddle my canoe at the dentist, as I have not been in a canoe for nearly a year. What I always felt paddling my canoe has been drifting away, and I need strong thoughts to distract me from the dentist’s drill. I now doubt that I can paddle my canoe at the dentist, as now I have in my mind’s eye the body mechanics of paddling my inflatable kayak (“IK”). I doubt that paddling my IK at the dentist will transport me to the Middle Fork, as the body mechanics of paddling an IK while enjoyable are not magical, and an IK will neither carve nor glide. I guess that I no longer will be able to go to the dentist.

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