All right, so you've decided that you want to learn how to paddle a kayak, but you're not sure where to start. Should you take lessons, learn from an experienced friend, or wing it on your own?
The answer is that all of these options can work, and have for thousands of paddlers. Learning on your own can be tricky, and you'll probably make every mistake in book before you get comfortable, but it certainly is a viable option. Just make sure you're in reasonable aerobic condition, have a modest amount of smarts and common sense, and are willing to be patient.
A good kayaking instructor, on other hand, can make whole process much easier--and safer--and it doesn't have to be a formal instructor from a paddling shop or business.
If you have friends or family who are experienced paddlers, consider asking them for some informal instruction. Just let them know that you're just starting out, and that you'll need a lot of patience and understanding for first few excursions. If you have access to a pool that allows kayaks in water, this can provide a great way to get some initial training, especially in getting your roll mechanics down.
If you don't know any experienced paddlers, consider joining a local kayak club in your area. These clubs and organizations can be great resources for all kinds of paddling information, tours, instruction, and networking. You may even find someone in club who's a certified instructor or who's willing to help a newbie get their feet (and all their other parts) wet.