New Castle News

August 8, 2013

Tim Kolodziej: Five reasons why life really is like a banana boat ride

Tim Kolodziej
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — True confession 1: I had never ridden on a banana boat.

True confession 2: I didn't even know what a banana boat was.

True confession 3: Today I’m wondering — what took me so long? It was an absolute blast.

For those unaware, a banana boat ride is essentially tubing on steroids. A jet ski or speedboat pulls you around a lake and you do your best to go along for the ride. Instead of an inner tube, you kneel on a raft with handles.

While tubing lets you fly solo, being pulled on a banana boat is a group effort — up to eight people at a time.

You're not alone. For better or for worse.

While on vacation, I had the pleasure of banana boating with my family, and here are five ways that being hurled at high speeds along a lake is a lot like life:

•Hold on tight — Life can be scary sometimes, and so can a lake. Powerful waves or a teammate shifting positions can have dire consequences for you — or they can boost your confidence for what’s just around the bend.

**The Lesson: Hold on to your values. Hold on to your passion. Find your sweet spot, get a grip and enjoy the journey.

•The ride can be bumpy — The water can be quite choppy — and extremely unpredictable — and if you're not wise, you can be tossed from the boat quite quickly. Just ask my wife. (I mean, not that she was tossed from the boat or anything. Um, twice.)

**The Lesson — Life certainly doesn't provide smooth sailing as you make your way through the day. Set your course each morning and navigate the rough waters with care.

•Watch someone who's gone before you — Each ride comes with a "spotter," someone who sits on the back of the jet ski and monitors the group being pulled. His job is to look for trouble, then signal for the driver to either stop or slow down until it's safe to move forward again.

**The Lesson — Who has gone before you in your profession? Who can you call upon to watch over your progress and keep you on track? Find trustworthy mentors to help guide your steps. And by all means listen when they offer words of warning for what's ahead.

•Lean in — As the driver turns, it helps a great deal to lean in on the banana boat, rather than toward the water. In other words, there’s less danger in the middle of the raft.

**The Lesson — There's safety in numbers, and it's a good move to come together as a group when problems arise. Instead of scattering into uncharted waters, seek community with like-minded people on the same journey you are on.

•Just give it a shot — Maybe you're scared to death of water. Or heights. Or amusement park rides. But you won't know if they’re as bad as you presume unless you jump in with both feet.

**The Lesson — What's your "no way?" A career move? Joining a new group? Asking your longtime girlfriend to marry you? Whatever negative tale you're telling yourself now is a story you've concocted in your mind. Want to know how to change that story? Change your mindset — then hop on the boat for fun and adventure.

Worst case scenario: You'll take an unexpected dip into a lake on a warm August day.

Best case scenario: You'll want to jump right back on and keep the ride going.

My wife can tell you a little about both.

(I mean, if she would have fallen off our boat. Um, twice. )

(Tim Kolodziej is executive editor at The News. To follow him on Twitter, CLICK HERE.)