Editor’s note: This is one of the topics Eric had lined up for 2012. Some of the featured pictures he picked out himself and he specifically suggested that you “Put YOURSELF in the picture”.
I can’t look at a painting of a seascape without evaluating it in terms of my kayak. Could I survive in that sea? Could I stay upright? – Audrey Sutherland, “Paddling North”
Bond went down among the trees and gazed and gazed at the waters of the bay, guessing at depths, tracing routes through the broken reef, and estimating the path of the moon which would be his only point of reckoning on the tortuous journey. – Ian Fleming, “Live and Let Die”
In his video “Kayaking Ocean Rock Gardens” Eric gestures to the surf behind him and says “Put yourself in the picture!” a thing he often said when looking at the ocean. In fact, one of Eric’s practices was to look at a coastal scene and visualize where he’d go and what he’d do if he were kayaking in that locale whether he actually planned to go there or not. It’s a practice similar to scouting; but bare bones scouting is pretty much just observing conditions and rating them. Putting yourself in the picture happens on a deeper level. Putting yourself in the picture requires a good imagination.
In June 2012 on my pilgrimage down the Northern California coast I experimented with putting myself in the picture. I stood on the bluffs and looked out to sea with the eyes of a kayaker and saw an amazing playground. Forget Disneyland and Six Flags! Conventional amusement park rides are repetitive: the same loops over and over. But you can go to the same beach, cave or rock garden again and again and it will always be different. No two days are ever alike. In fact, in an active rock garden no two moments are alike, and no two waves are alike, ever.
But we can’t always stand on the bluffs and gaze at the sea. For example, I don’t live across the road from Maverick’s and Pillar Point any more. Now I’m two hours from the coast. Still, looking at pictures of the ocean I can “put myself in the picture” and kayak in my imagination. Like Audrey Sutherland, I imagine where I’d go and what I’d do. One of the plusses of this exercise is that when you actually go kayaking you can get more out of the experience.
Putting yourself in the picture is similar to the visualization techniques used by professional athletes. The difference is that athletes visualize the same movement over and over: the golf swing, the gymnastic dismount, the perfect judo throw. Because extreme kayaking is so dynamic, visualization is necessarily more complex. We look at a picture and ask: is that a suckhole starting to manifest? What would I do if I were positioned behind that rock and a really big wave came through? What’s my escape route? And so forth.
Let’s put this theory into practice. Look at the picture below:
What would you do in the photo if you were where Andy is in this scene? Where would you want to go? Use your mind to visualize how you’d handle the situation. This practice is helpful and can be a lot of fun. Another thing: sometimes we need a little prodding to get off our butts and out the door. When we appreciate coastal nature by putting ourselves in the picture through the use of imagination we can find something to do anywhere on any day.
There are calm days:
There are stormy days:
There are halcyon days:
There are mystical days:
There are fabulous sunsets:
There are cool campsites:
There are big action days:
There are mellow evenings:
Sometimes after visualizing for a bit we might decide we don’t want to be in the picture and would rather go for a hike instead. Looking at the water from beaches and bluffs can be just as much fun as being on the water. But whether on the water, down on the beach, up on the bluffs, or sitting at home surfing the Internet for cool photos, the coast is beautiful. So put yourself in the picture!
How do you appreciate coastal nature? Tell us by clicking below!