The most important aspect of paddling in a dragon boat is following stroke, paddling in unison: all twenty paddles go in the water together and come out of the water together. If any of the paddlers are off stroke, the boat doesn’t run smoothly, it jolts and jerks as it moves, it feels wrong. All it takes is one paddler to throw off an entire boat. However, if everyone is paddling together, the power in the boat is unmistakable, the boat runs faster and the glide lasts longer.
In a race there is no time for adjustments. As we race, we assume that everyone is doing their best with both technique and power. But most importantly, we trust that all the paddlers behind us are staying on stroke, that everyone is paddling together, that the boat is as one, so that the boat can move with power and speed.
In order to move ahead in life and live it to the fullest, you must have faith. You cannot forge ahead alone, without support. You have to have faith that there will always be safety nets out there, set out for you by family, friends, acquaintances, and strangers. You have to have faith so that you can keep moving ahead.
Prior to my brain injury, I managed with little to no help, I felt uncomfortable asking for help and felt awkward when it was offered. I managed pretty well on my own, moving along. I thought I was doing fine.
The brain bleeds forced my hand, I couldn’t manage on my own, I had to learn to ask for help. It was a hard lesson to learn, but well worth it. Not only did I learn to ask for help and to accept it graciously, but I also learnt that by asking for help, by exposing my weaknesses, I was transforming them into strengths, I was letting the world in and giving the world license to open up to me. I was becoming more empathic, a more involved member of the human race, I was forming deeper bonds. I was growing as a person.
But it wasn’t until I had a discussion with my friend Laurie about our passion for dragon boating, that I put two and two together and saw the bigger picture. She urged me to imagine the power, the richness in our lives if everyone worked together, like a dragon boat team, if we supported one another, fully, without holding back. She added, “We are one. That’s our power. If the whole world could get in a dragon boat together, it would be so cool. Just to have faith in each other, that we all have different strengths and we can move forward together.”