When Dana Sibilsky first began paddling her kayak on the Peconic River during the early-morning hours just following sunrise, her only expectation was to squeeze in a quick workout before heading off to work. The calm of the water and the quiet rustling of birds in tree branches themselves just rousing from slumber made it easy for Sibilsky to paddle languidly along, but the need for exercise and the time constraint of the coming workday forced her to pick up the pace.
So while Sibilsky paddled downriver, she had no idea that the time she spent on the water that morning would lead to an epiphany that would drastically and permanently alter her professional life. Though these trips to the river had become something of a routine, she noticed something different that morning that changed her, that made her reevaluate whether the work she had done to this point in her life had been worthwhile.
Sitting on the river in a kayak bathed in early-morning sunshine, it should not come as much of a surprise that Dana Sibilsky became dissatisfied with the idea of heading to an office filled with fluorescent lights, a place where she would compile data from spreadsheets to ensure the company for which she worked continued to be profitable. Sibilsky decided that morning that she was not contributing something of value through her work, so she put in her two weeks notice the moment she returned from the Peconic.
It has been several years since that brief and life-changing foray onto the Peconic River, and Sibilsky is at peace with the decision to walk away from a profession that was very lucrative but lacking in the type of intrinsic reward that makes a career enjoyable. As a wildlife guide, Dana Sibilsky now takes like-minded spirits into the very same waters that stirred her epiphany, functioning in a sort of complementary role with the Long Island Aquarium by providing education on the diversity of life occupying the island’s many waterways.
Dana Sibilsky still kayaks every morning on the Peconic River beginning at sunrise. The difference is that she is now able to stay on the water for as long as she likes while encouraging others to take an interest in those rustling birds that line the riverbed and those fish that occasionally breach the surface of the water at dawn.