Paddling Taught Me to Embrace the Unknown

Photo Credit: Matt Parker
Photo Credit: Matt Parker

Ever been on a canoe trip? Did you just start paddling, going with the flow and discovering new places along the way? Or, did you map out the whole journey ahead of time, then followed it?

Growing up near rivers and lakes in Ontario, I was always in or on the water. Family canoe trips were endlessly exciting. The plan was never specific about where to stop.  We’d just say, “Let’s go for a paddle.” And we did.

Because we knew the waterways so well, sometimes we had a set turn-around point. Other times, we would just paddle for as long as we felt like, weather and time of day permitting. 

Those days were filled with wonder, exploration, and not knowing.  I loved it! Even though we were well prepared and knew the course, we had no idea what we would find en route as that changed daily.

My passion for paddling a canoe led me to learn how to kayak, row, and stand up paddle board. I seek out opportunities to do all of these in my life.

Since I am a paddler, the analogy of going with the flow and being an explorer has really influenced all areas of my life. For me, the attitude of wonder and not knowing what’s ahead is a chance for discovery, where I can find out what’s beyond the next bend.

For some people, though, the “not knowing” of what lies ahead can be scary, as the journey can seem out of their control.  They’d like to know what’s coming up, so they can plan for it and be prepared.

Lakes and rivers are relatively tame waters for the most part.  But for some situations in life, you have to go out from shore into open waters no matter how well you’re prepared. One might relate this to graduation and starting your life as a professional.

I remember around the times I graduated from my Bachelor’s degree and my Master’s degree, people were questioning the next steps on my professional journey.  “What are you going to do next with your psychology degree?” they would ask.

At the time, I responded to such prodding with an “I don’t know.” I was so excited about the endless possibilities ahead of me that I didn’t know the specifics of my future path.  Not because I didn’t have any idea, but because there were so many routes to take as a psychology graduate.

Answering “I don’t know” didn’t mean I had no knowledge or had no drive to pursue my passion.  It just meant that I didn’t know what was around the bend.

Sometimes, people’s responses were negative.  They expected me to know where I was going and to have all my steps in order. Despite their responses, I had such a positive attitude to start the journey.


Looking back, I should have said: “I don’t know what lies ahead, but I’m intrigued to find out.”

Not knowing what is up ahead can be scary; people often fear the unknown. But the unknown can also be wonderful; it can be a great learning experience too. You’ll discover new insights about yourself and how much you are capable of!

Don’t let fear of the unknown prevent you from trying new paths, new journeys, new opportunities, new ways of thinking!

Just start paddling your journey.  This is what you have prepared for.  I didn’t know where I would end up when I created a blog. Same goes when I started my undergraduate and Master’s programs. But I moved forward and believed in myself.

So when you don’t know something, see this unknown as a ‘wonder’ful opportunity to teach yourself, gain experience, and begin a new journey.

Go find your path. Don’t be afraid of not knowing where it leads. Just Go!

**In need of musical inspiration about paddling and wonder, listen to this song by Naughty Boy ft. Emeli Sande called "Wonder."

Thank you for reading and your presence at this beach retreat. You Rock! I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts in the comment section below.

See you at the beach!