Over the years I have met people who tell me how much paddling has changed their life in one way or another but it isn’t often that you find somebody who can truly say that kayaking saved their life. Well, now you can add author and friend of this site, Sean Smith to that short list.
To get the full story you are going to need to pick up his recently released autobiography, The Fat Paddler in which Sean tells the very inspiring story of recovery which includes not one but two severe motor vehicle accidents, the 2002 Bali bombing (which he was a witness to), post-traumatic shock, extreme weight gain, and depression. The Fat Paddler hides behind nothing and it’s a very honest account of his adult life and how he dealt with those struggles.
So how did kayaking save his life? Sean was introduced to the sport several years earlier but never really took it up until after one of the car accidents and he needed an activity that could accommodate his lower body injuries.
Of course Sean got hooked on sea kayaking right away which helped him focus and get back in shape and ultimately recover from depression and other physical injuries. In a short-while he leveraged his fantastic marketing skills to develop the highly successful blog, The Fat Paddler as a way to document his recovery.
I remember stumbling on his blog shortly after he started posting a couple of years ago and it’s been a blast to follow along with his adventures. I remember reading reports in the early days where he describes the massive waves that were at least six inches high; now that his kayak skills have considerably improved he is out on much bigger adventures.
The Fat Paddler is a very inspirational story and I suggest that you check out. It’s currently being distributed throughout Australia and New Zealand so if you don’t live in that area you will need to import it through your local bookstore. E-book readers will be pleased to know that it has just become available worldwide on iTunes via the iBook app so it might be easier to pick up there. Here are the direct iTunes links for Canada, United States and Australia.
From the website:
[blockquote][The Fat Paddler is] an extraordinary tale of an ordinary mans recovery from physical and mental trauma through taking on the challenge of competitive kayaking. Over an eight-year period, Sean Smith survived two major accidents including the Bali Bombing in 2002, leaving him with significant physical and mental injuries and setting him on a path to an early death. At a low point in his life, he accepted the challenge by friends to compete in a kayak ultra-marathon with only seven months preparation. Despite early failures, Sean persevered. This is the story of his struggles and eventual triumphs that lifted him from a state of despondency and physical wreckage and lit a passion in him for the outdoors.[/blockquote]
I had the great pleasure of meeting Sean when he visited Toronto this past winter and I can tell you that he is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet on the water.
Sadly we still live in a world where talking about mental issues and depression is still a bit of a taboo topic. Because of that, it takes a takes a lot of courage to write about such deeply personal topics.
I’m so excited that his book has finally made it to print. Look for it at bookstores in August.