From how I see life, everything is a feeling. What makes my querencia special to me is the feeling of being, “home” when I am not actually at my house. Being in a canoe during practice or races is where I can really just be myself. I donʻt have to act like anyone else or be a certain way when I am there.
During practice, itʻs easy to forget about my worries from school or home. My friends that I paddle with never fail to keep my mind off of my responsibilities. When weʻre paddling during practice, my friends and I are always making goals. The goals that we discuss are always about what we want to accomplish for the current season. We talk about our mindsets and why we paddle. This part of practice makes me grow as a person, because I learned from my friends about being committed, being dedicated, and being humble after every win. I donʻt feel like I have to impress them either because weʻre all at practice to be better. We understand that no one starts out the best. Above everything, we love what we do and thatʻs why I feel comfortable being myself around them.
When I am in a canoe, itʻs easier for me to think. Itʻs easy for me to worry less about everything that I have to do when practice is done or when my race is over. I feel like being in this place brings out the better side of me all the time. Iʻm able to be easy-going, but I can still be competitive at the same time. I am able to be so determined to win during a race, but I will always make sure to tell other crews that they did good if I get the chance. Itʻs a whole other feeling when I am in a canoe. Being here naturally taught me about balance, and it always gave me clarity. The only thing I ever have to really worry about is how fast the blade of my paddle is pulling through the water.
It isnʻt just the people in the canoe either. What makes this a special place to me is everything we do in the canoe. I remember something my friend and I always did before every sprint and practice. Before our steersman said, “Paddles up” which really means to get our paddles ready, we would cup a handful of water in our hands and splash it over our paddles. Iʻm not sure why we always did that, but it was another factor that made my querencia special to me. When we had drills, it would always be super cold because we had to paddle for about two hours while our shirt was soaked. I could barely even see sometimes because of the amount of salt water that was in my eyes. When our practice runs late, we always watch the sun set together. It doesnʻt seem as special, but when Iʻm paddling with some of my favorite people in the world, with some of the prettiest colors in the sky, and somewhat calm water, itʻs like that feeling where everyone is at peace and all is set right.
No matter if I am in a canoe off the shore of Nanakuli, Waimanalo, Lahaina or anywhere else, being in a canoe will always be my special place. The only problem I get stressed from is not being able to transition fast enough. My only thought when I was in the canoe was to finish a sprint before other people could. The only thing that could distract me from everything else, was being in a canoe.