As any rower will tell you, ours is a backward sport. I don't mean in terms of equality, professionalism, or athleticism. What I'm talking about is the very act of rowing itself.
Here's the deal—we rowers go backward in order to go forward. We sit on our sliding seats, using our bodies like coiled energy, unfurling the power from feet to legs to core to arms and back as our oars fill with water and we catapult our rowing shells to our destination, whether it's a finish line or simply the turn-around point.
And as we do this we sit facing where we've been, in effect rowing blind, occasionally turning our heads to steal a look, but mostly using clues provided by points passed to sense what's ahead. It's a leap of faith and it calls for mindfulness on a stroke-by-stroke basis, especially in open water rowing where being attuned to the subtle din of a building riptide ahead can mean the difference between successfully navigating the white water rapids or taking an unceremonious (and damn cold) dip.
Often the clues aren't so dramatic. Sometimes it's just a breeze rippling the water that lets you know to take care or maybe it's the pattern of the puddles formed by your oars that hints at your progress or lack thereof. Whatever it is, it's there to be listened to and in that sense, our backwards sport is a lot like life.
As 2015 rolls in, we all can't help but look back on the past year. Successes, yes. Failures, well, sure. And lots of us make resolutions.
But this year, I think I'm going take a cue from rowing and reflect on where I've been, using that information to chart my course ahead, stroke-by-stroke, day-by-day. With any luck, it might just work and I'll arrive at the finish line of 2015 a little bit wiser.