In the photo on the left, a birch tree has grown on the decaying trunk of a predecessor. As the old trunk slowly disappears, the young birch appears to have a set of legs well above the forest floor. It reminded me of the legacy we all share with each of our pasts. We are what our pasts has made us, aren't we?
I'm trying to change a bit of that past these days as I recently discovered I can no longer paddle in the old comfortable way I've done for the past five years or so. In 2005 I bought a kayak with a Smart Track rudder system. Over the years I have developed the habit of pushing on the foot peg on the same side as I was placing my paddle: left foot, left hand; right foot, right hand. Doing this would enable me to give the rudder control lever on top of the peg a little tweek to keep the kayak going in a straight line.
Why change now, you might think? Well, my new boat has no rudder. Direction control is based on what I do with the boat. Placing both foot and hand effort on the same side of the boat with each stroke causes the boat to wander off course. Until recently, I would correct this with a bit of edge or by adjusting the skeg. This would work, more or less, but I was starting to wonder why it was happening. It turns out much of the problem is to be found by the way I was paddling, all one side, then all the other.
I began paddling using a left hand side stroke combined with a right foot push on the peg, followed by the opposite diagonal pattern. I immediately noticed less wander and more boat control! Now I have to unlearn an old habit as I must consciously avoid falling into the old pattern. As many of you know, breaking old habits isn't easy. That old trunk is still there affecting everything I do!