Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.
On Friday, day 66 came with knowing I would have to say goodbye to Sam. I was up at six and finished arranging the last few things to load in the Kaboose. We had joked all week that he had brought the weather with him. It had been super flat and beautiful all week. So what did I have as he drove me back to the put in that early morning? You guessed it…whitecap waves and overcast skys.
Sam couldn’t say bye fast enough as he knew there was no way he wanted roped in to any part of Day 66’s paddle. And neither did I.
I decided to wait out the waves…but little did I know I would wait by the beach from 7am until about 4:15pm. But great days can happen when you least expect it.
1st I met a great couple in Paul and Rachel Butcher. They were taking their morning walk and were awesome to get to bump into. I would see them again later, when they came back down to the beach after 4. Paul would help me launch through the rough surf to head out for the day. But that is still a few hours down the line.
Maybe the most influential meeting of the trip so far, came during the wait as well. I can’t remember his name, but sometimes it’s just about the people you meet that leave their memory on you in a much larger way.
He was around cleaning up the clubhouse, when we got to talking about anything and everything. I told him about the trip and we continued to share stories. It wasn’t until a good 45 minutes into talking that he hit me with a big life lesson I have given to so many other athletes and students throughout the years.
While talking, I used the line “Somedays I may think…what the heck am I doing out here” and boy did he immediately hit me with the truth I needed.
He said, “Coming from teaching did you just hear what you said? Planting any type of negative thought like that in your head, you might as well be done. Just pack it up and go home. That is no way to think even at the end of a rough day. You are out doing something so many others can’t do, or wish they could do or will never have the chance to do. Fund something to always stay positive, because as soon as you stop thinking positive, your trip is over. Have a healthy respect for the Lake or wherever else you go, but never become defeated by it!”
He was dead right. Up until I had my setback with the fin, I had never let doubt creep into my head. Since then I had questioned weather, my luck and even my own ability to complete the loop. Before then, nothing could stop me. Not Saginaw Bay, not a crazy current under the Mackinac Bridge, or anything else for that matter, so by golly…why let anything stop me now?!?!
The week break was great. The week with my best friend Sam reenergized me, but it was these words from a stranger, echoing so many coaches and teachers I had before, that really flipped the switch.
I am back…and better than ever.
Lake Michigan…tough? Please…nothing’s stopping me now!!!
With that…I would launch with Paul’s assistance through the rough surf. Setting off at about 4:30pm. It would turn into one of the best days of the trip.
The view of my buddy’s lake house from the water, the clear blue sky and the majestic setting sun from my camp spot at the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness…all came with a bit more appreciation, and a lot bigger grasp on the reality of it all.
Jake Stachovak, one of the two guys to complete the loop paddling told me before my paddle started…”enjoy everything and don’t forget to soak in where you are everyday.”
I had forgotten that mesdage for a brief momrnt, but those words and the words of my clubhouse friend help remind me…there is no place I would rather be. This is my great adventure. It may be a sunset, the view of the shore, a new friend or just a simple bird swimming along side the surf next to my boat…everything is something I will remember forever.