Row your boat to shore someday


Remember that scene from Forrest Gump when Jenny returns to Forrest after months and months – if not years – of the total hippie immersion life and sleeps for what the director made seem like a month straight? Complete exhaustion, right?

For the first time in my nearly 30 years on this planet, my overall energy is of a level similar to Jenny’s in this scene. I want to crawl into a bed in Mobile, Alabama, put on a soft jazz record, read a chapter of Norwegian Wood, and sleep until my mind is so relaxed that I can no longer process a dream. I have never been to Alabama.

I cannot say that I really mind this fatigue – in fact, I nearly crave it. Getting to this level has had many, many benefits. For example, on a recent late summer Sunday, my life went kind of like this:

“Kairu-san, roppun…hajimarimasu! Six minutes, we start! Kutsu ga arimasu ka!?!”

“Aaaa sumimasen! Chotto matte kudasai!

I put on my shoes as fast as my hands could process the knots and ran down the beach to find my rafting (ikada) team waiting for me. My spot on the raft was front-left. I hurdled a life preserver around my upper body and saddled in.

“Sumimasen…paddle…uh….row…uhhhhh… arimasen!”

“Ahhhhhh…. Chotto… koko….koko…. douzo!”

The next thing I recalled was a wash of white noise as 25 some-odd rafts set off to sea in a scurried frenzy.

“Biiiiiru….biiiiru….biiiiru,” we chanted in unison with each awkwardly swift row of the paddle. Rafts were funneling around us on all sides. More chanting. Rhythm was hard to come by, but the incessant pulse of the chants kept me paddling, and we eventually found a very workable and productive pace.

“Kairu-san, stop!”

“Lefto ganbare!”

“Kairu-san, go!”

“Iiiiiiko, Iiiiiiko, ganbaaaaaaaatte!”

I rowed. We rowed. They rowed. Everyone rowed some more! The six of us on that homemade raft with One-Piece as our captain were all on the exact same wave: finish the freaking race and do not stop the chants until we do. It was an unspoken goal that bridges any language in any world in any given similar situation. I have no idea if the race lasted 30 seconds or 30 minutes (likely somewhere in between), but whatever time frame it did happen to cover were some of the most vigorous moments of late.

Amidst the chaotic nature that can comes with any type of race, I can recall a moment when I was peering over the outskirts of what I now know as Shunan’s country-side counterpart. For as little as 10 seconds, and as many as 15 seconds, I was granted one of those “Man, I do not want to be doing anything else than exactly what I am doing at this very moment in the entire world right now” moments.

And then…

“Kairu-san! Go!”

Well, we finished the race – together, as a team. No idea what place, nor does it matter. It is akin to tallying up your score at the end of 18 holes – no one remembers what you shot a day later, but you still know that you accomplished something great, at least in your heart and mind.

Action Rafting Photo Credit: Wayne Yin

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