In our public schools, the buzzword is tolerance. We must all learn tolerance, or whatever. If we are an intolerant people, then I suppose becoming tolerant is a necessary step. It is not the destination, though. My dream is not to live in a world where we tolerate our fellow man in spite of his differences; my dream is to live in a world where we love our fellow man because of them. The differences between men add value to my life.
The same goes with paddles.
If I learned one thing in my days of fossil-fuel-powered sports (thank Whoever for helping my transcend those boorish, earth-destroying activities), it is that you never change more than one thing at a time. I didn't re-jet the carburator, change the cam timing, advance the ignition, and go to a hotter spark plug just because the engine in my Datsun hesitated a bit coming off idle. Paddles is different, though. With paddles, every adjustment costs $250. I measure twice, adjust once, adjust completely, and relish the huge difference for the value it adds to my life.
A 45-degree, orange paddle with a standard-sized bent shaft is to a 30-degree, green paddle with a small-sized straight shaft as baseball is to cricket. They both go good with beer. My orange-paddle roll had not failed me a single time since that dark swim on the Frog nearly a year ago. I was determined to never let that happen again. I practiced and practiced until I had convinced myself there was no possibility of me ever missing a roll again. If I had a paddle in my hands--any paddle--I would be able to roll! I tried my brand-new green paddle out in the treacherous waters of Beaver Lake today and swam three times in an hour. It felt like I was using a tennis racquet. It was a very humbling experience.
As I was diagnosing the exact cause of my roll meltdown, I got to thinking about paddle-diversity and tolerance and stuff. The worst thing in the world would be for me to hate my new paddle or be afraid of it just because it is different. I don't really want to tolerate it's differences either. What I want to do--what I choose to do--is to love my new paddle because of it's differences. If I can't roll with my new paddle, it it not the paddle's fault. My green paddle has no duty to change itself to be more like my orange paddle just to avoid my discrimination and unfair treatment. Instead, I have a duty. I have a duty to learn to roll again using a fucking tennis racquet.
Are we really that different?