Is the risk worth it?
There is unmitigated risk in kayaking. You can attenuate risk, but you cannot eliminate it, even by paddling "easy" whitewater. People die everywhere, all types of kayakers die. Four expert kayakers have perished this year. What is all this worth?
We build friendships. The people we kayak with are people we love and would put our lives at risk to save.
We face our fear, fully and with as much grace as we can create.
We solve problems and develop confidence.
We build community.
We feel like we are a part of something.
This is the Quincy team. I just attended Cody and Morgan's unwedding. A modern twist on a traditional invention. Sometimes I question what the value of the relationships we form on the water really means outside the context of whitewater. This question was just answered for me.
They mean a lot. Whitewater isn't some vacuum, it is a rich environment where trust is built, where camaraderie and rapport burgeons. Its roots dig deep. I want them to be deep.
There is an openness and understanding that cannot really be spoken, cannot be conveyed exactly with words. The affinity is there, it seamlessly ties us all together.
Despite this richness, it doesn't answer the question. There may be great reward for our journey on the water together, but it doesn't negate other ways of connecting, doesn't make it inherently worth doing.
Do we really have a choice? Or does the choice choose us?
We all have intuition. We can fight it, and some people become quiet adept at ignoring it, pushing it away, drowning it with alcohol, religion, and lies. But eventually we must face it, if we are truly attempting to be happy and compassionate in this life. This intuition makes decisions, it lives beyond reason and emotion, it is a fusion of both.
We feel it, and in an attempt to understand it we come up with logical arguments to back up our intuition. We have spent hundreds of years developing the ideas of rhetoric to make it seem more scientific. We can identify Pathos, Logos, and Ethos. We can do studies, write books, and cite evidence.
Eventually it comes down to who we are, our intuition. It makes choices and it is up to us to follow them.
I love kayaking. I love kayakers. I love rivers. I love the rain and a hot day in the spring. I love diurnals, gauges, and sticks in the sand.
I love fear. I love looking at a rapid from the top, questioning my motives and wrapping the spray skirt around the deck only to find out.
The choice to kayak is not moot. There is gravity in the decision. The risk is real. The rewards are too.
Kayaking is not worth death, but it is worth doing. My intuition tells me that.
It is a strange cycle. I want to kayak so my friends are safe. I want to be there with them. I want to kayak so my friends will push themselves. I want them to kayak so I am safe, so I push myself.
I can't really imagine quitting because my friends, my family, are out there doing it. I want to be with them. I want to learn from them and help them, and I want the same from them.
We are a family out there. We have to support each other as a community, as relatives. This is the calling of whitewater.