March 9, 2018
Upon returning to Ottawa last week, I discovered the access to one of my favourite places in the world was closed. The river surfing and kayaking wave at Bate Island had barricades put up by the NCC, after the floods hit the area a week before.
That wave, which can only be surfed a few weeks a year becomes my home away from home when it is in. Any regular can tell you that if the wave is in, I am at it. It has been the way for 11 years now.
I debated the best approach to regaining access to the island and wave. It is my happy place. It makes all issues melt away as I surf the spring melt water. My final conclusion was an online petition asking the NCC to re-open the island, in a timely manner, but without taking resources away from flood victims.
Local media picked up the story a day after starting the petition and things began to move forward.
A group started that felt the need to shame me, and other island users. They called us selfish for asking the island to be open now that the flood waters had receded. It got me thinking, and they are correct. It is selfish.
When it comes down to it, any outdoor adventure is selfish. The time you spend doing it, rather it be surfing, hiking or biking could be used volunteering at local charities. The money you spend on gear could instead be donated to helping numerous causes in your community or around the world.
I choose (most of the time) to spend that time and money on myself. On my adventures. Is that selfish? Of course it is. Do I deserved to be publicly shamed for it?
What if that person is using that outdoor adventure as a coping mechanism (sounds like a good project idea… 😉 ) for something bigger happening in their life? A way to destress, to forget about the daily in and outs. Is it really fair to shame them for it?
It is okay to be selfish, to invest in yourself, to invest in your health and to invest in your mind. Go ride your bike, surf a wave or hike a mountain, and if someone wants to tell you that you are selfish for it, just smile and nod.
PS: Thank you to all the signed the petition, and the media that covered the closure. The island is now open. See you there!