(The following article was graciously submitted by Kim Bolivar, San Diego CA)
One day….My best friend introduced me to the sport of Outrigger canoe, he used to talk about it all the time. I have always loved sports but I had never paid attention that outrigger even existed. His passion for the sport got me interested and I decided to give it a try one day.
There aren't many sports out there that represent a culture like outrigger does. Paddling is not only about getting fit, crossing the finish line or setting a record. Paddling is a way of life. When you paddle you carry the Aloha spirit. Aloha means mutual regard and affection and extends warmth to others without expecting anything in return. Each person is important to the other for a deeper connection in collective existence. In outrigger it is believed that there's Aloha and mana (spirit) everywhere, in the people, plants, animals, water, reefs, rocks. Even in the canoes and paddles. That to me was a concept I had never been exposed to before, and it was amazing to see the respect paddlers give to our whole environment.
I definitely wanted to be part of that. It is in my nature and I immediately felt I belonged in this sport.
My guess is … if you are reading this, you get it.
When I first ventured into it, my team mates were very warm and welcoming and it made me pretty eager to want to come back. I have been paddling for a while now and each day I learn something different about the sport, the people, the history, and culture even in California. Each practice I come out feeling better about myself, stronger, more confident and with stronger ties to my club members and friends. I love that we get to paddle with different people each time and that you make completely different personal connections with every person in your canoe. I have been surprised to realize that paddling and connecting with someone on the water has the power to change preconception you may have had about that person. Spend time in a canoe blending and connecting… and the after paddle hug is far more real.
The friendships I have built have been amazing, every time I practice I'm looking forward to my time on the water with my friends, my Ohana.
Everything from laughs to tearful challenges and all the things we share together are much more than what I bargained for when I joined my club. This journey has been thrilling and uplifting.
In California, one of the most exciting races is the championship "Catalina Crossing".
I have been involved in sports all of my life, but this has been the most amazing athletic experience I've ever had.
6 hours it took us to cross the channel. 6 hours of very hard work, connection, personal struggles and achievements. 6 hours of silent bonding with your crew and 6 hours that will last in my mind and soul for as long as I live. When we were about a mile away from the finish line, emotional tears started rolling down uncontrollably of my eyes, it didn't stop me from paddling my heart out and leaving all of my strength on the water to reach that finish line. The excitement and thrill of completing that challenge was incredible, I will never forget. I think of it often and I automatically smile every time.
Outrigger Paddling is now part of who I am and makes me want to become a better human being every day. The Aloha spirit of giving, giving, giving until you can't give no more, and the joyful sharing of life energy in the present has just captivated my soul.
If you are a paddler you no doubt look forward to many more life changing experiences and many more connections with amazing people within all water sport.