I love my kayaking, I celebrate it on and off the river. Days with friends old and new, experiences shared. Those experiences downloaded at the end of every day or river, verbally, descriptively, pictorially, over a brew or a beer, this happened, that happened, I nailed it, I got my ass handed to me. Often we have the pictures or videos to prove it, to analyse, to endorse what we’ve achieved, to validate. The recent trip to Italy gives food for thought, stout water levels for us weekend warrior paddling types.

Today, a phone call and a few words exchanged, the world has changed, there’s one less soul, lost to the river.

The tears of someone closer than I, I offer words of comfort, I hope. Anger, sadness, frustration courses through my body, all vying for attention, fighting each other to see which one will win over. Anger subsides, quickly, frustration and sadness duke it out until they unite into reflection.

Reflection on a trip in a far away land, back in the day, 2008 to be precise, a river shared. Social media makes the world smaller, yet bigger as it allows us to keep in touch with more people. Before it arrived we would no doubt lose touch with people, but now we send a friend request and if accepted we enter a new world of friendship, not physically sharing the experience but witnessing from afar through our phone or PC, often instantly.

This sport, pastime, hobby, way of life, brings us so much joy, takes us to places we thought we could only imagine, we enter a close knit community of like minded souls, and it can bring heartbreak and sadness in an instant.

We know the dangers, the issues. A group of individuals working as a team, we accept that in a lot of conditions, “ain’t no one coming to help”. We exercise judgement, we make the calls, we plan and strategise, we set safety, where and when possible. The chaos of white water is complete and all enveloping, often we can move around in it, use it and achieve our goal, the navigation of the river. In some instances we walk away, not feeling ‘it’.

The way in which we spend our leisure time will no doubt be scrutinised, even criticised. Ours is a niche past time, however you wish to categorise it.

In our daily life we wake up each day and by the grace of whoever or whatever we rest our heads on pillows at the end of the day, until we do not, whenever that may be. Could we lead safer lives, perhaps, should we lead safer lives, perhaps. In a world of uncertainty we can only enjoy the moments, whatever, wherever, whenever they maybe.

The price we pay for sharing someone’s joy or achievement is to share in their sadness, grief, or their passing, the former maybe short lived, the latter not so. As Keanu said, when asked what happens when we die? “I know the ones who love us will miss us”

‘Water is forgiving, until it isn’t’ someone said to me yesterday.

HTB, if you know, you know.