Posted by Ken Campbell October 17, 2009 1 Comment 939 views

I ran into someone yesterday who I had not seen for a while. Not a friend exactly… more of an acquaintance, a fellow paddleboarder, who wanted to know if I’d been getting more people into the sport, if I’d been preaching the joys of SUP and recruiting new converts. He was insistent, going on and on like a rabid missionary about the individuals he’d been trying to get on the water, the efforts to which he was going to groom new recruits. He pushed me hard as well, and even though he meant well, I had a hard time not lashing out.

Let me explain. Like a kayak or a canoe, a paddleboard is a vehicle, nothing more. It allows my body to get to places where only my mind could go without it. It is always fun and sometimes exciting, and there is a certain joy to be gained from learning how to operate it efficiently and skillfully (like any other vehicle), but it exists to transport my carcass from one place to another, and that’s the nut of it.

Once you start confusing the ship with the voyage, you have lost me. If you want to talk tech and tweak, you will need to find someone else’s ear to bend. I want to hear about the journey that others are taking, compare their experiences to mine and share the places we are finding, along with the ups and down of the route. If there is any truth out there, it will reveal itself in the pursuit; it does not magically reside in the vehicle that has been chosen.

There is money to be made in preaching, though. Always has been. I run into manufacturer’s reps at the shop (we’re in the thick of the fall clinic season right now), and these folks are full of information that shows the superiority of their product, whatever it is. This jacket will keep me warmer, this ski will make me faster, this paddle will make me more efficient. But these are reps – it’s their job to sell me on the supposed superiority of whatever item it is that they are shilling. At some level, I forgive them for their limited scope. It’s their job.

I’m not a preacher, or a salesman. I don’t have any truth, at least none that I can dispense. I have points of view but they can change from time to time, so I don’t feel comfortable putting my beliefs out there as something to which others should aspire. In the end, they are mine alone, and they are unlikely to translate well to someone else’s reality.

I’m going out on a paddleboard this morning, but it could just as easily be a kayak. Or my own two feet. It’s my journey. I’ll ride what I want.

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