Yesterday I participated in a Dragon Boat race. My company sponsors a boat every year for the annual Riverfest, and so me, and twenty-four of my co-workers, practice and practice, and then race.
A Dragon Boat is not like a canoe. It is something more, and something less. It’s thin and light, more like a racing scull than some high-sided, sharp-keeled North American boat. There are eleven rowers, on each side, those who row left-handed and those who row right. There’s a drummer on the bow, a coxswain of sorts, and someone in the back who handles the long rudder.
You don’t have to be in the best of shape to be successful at Dragon Boats. What you have to be is willing to give up your ego, your distraction and your desire to do best for you to the immediate now of your team. You see, Dragon Boating is all about team.
You need to be in perfect harmony, all twenty-two of you who row. The oars need to dip into the water at exactly the same time, and to the same depth. When you shorten stroke, it needs to be to the same length, and when you reach, each rower leans forward, leaning into the space of the person ahead, reaching into their water, as that person reaches into the space of the person ahead of them. All the time, you pace yourself to the sound of the drum and the breathing of your team. Forward, dip, pull, recover, one stroke after the other, each in perfect harmony, until you feel the boat lift and fly, making the work of moving the water lighter, the boat itself riding forward on the strength of your single, dedicated effort.
We speak more often these days of ‘being in the moment.’ Dragon Boating is an exercise that can only be successful when that lesson is learned.
My best to everyone and my special thanks to the incomparable Ms Buffy.
If you haven’t looked at Harlow Layne’s (Gyllene) Facebook, take a gander. She’s about to launch her own original romance writing.