This Blog

This blog is dedicated to explorations of spirit, life, adventure, and people. I hope that it encompasses much more than the actions of people, but rather creates a more complete picture of what it means to be an athlete and a person in the outdoor community.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


As your boat slides into the Potomac, the mirror reflection waves up and reverberates all the way across the 600 foot wide pool. The moist, warm air settles on your skin and the water drips off of your hands as you paddle. The perfect reflection ends in a long flat horizon line, where it looks like the end of the world, like looking out to sea. But it reflects the sky perfectly. You cannot tell what is below until you fall over the horizon. As you look up the six foot tall dam runs across the entire river, giving it a manicured feeling of false perfection. 
Past the dam, the river runs through a field of boulders until the falls. It splits and braids into dozens of channels, where hundreds of feet before it was a slow moving reflecting pond. Soon you are above the middle channel.
The rock is abrupt and ungainly. The water thrashes against it to make its descent down to the next pool, and no concessions are made in its path. There is no easy way down. The landscape is baked. The few plants that live on these islands of rock have been thrown there from floods, or exist in the marginal space between regular flow and flood level.  Grace under Pressure.

Craig Kleckner
Galen Volckhausen

Craig Kleckner

Soon the river runs into itself and slows down. The walls of rock lift up around the riverbed and create a corridor for the tranquil Potomac to slowly move toward the sea. The float out settles the river back to the reflecting pond it was when it began, and your mind can return to contemplating what happens in congress only a few miles away...

Friday, May 11, 2012

Chasing Shadows

A Jackson Rock Star shines blue steel

Who cares about success? Trying to fit yourself into the box of success is an exhausting venture. We spend our lives trying to copy other people, studying what works and emulating it as best we can. But we can’t. We are our own people and we play by our own rules. Jobs try to fit us into categories but none of us are perfect. I try to teach math, but I am no math teacher, I try to coach kayaking, but I am no kayaking coach, I play dad, psychologist, counselor, philosopher, disciplinarian, adult, cook, nurse. I am none of these things. I have been trained to do these things but I am only me. I double dip, I forget to clean my dishes, I get frustrated and tired, I am not worthy of these tasks, I am not perfect.

A moment of perfection
What are we even trying to live up to anymore? I am not Evan Garcia, I am not Richard Montgomery, I am not Rick Stock. We are on our own journey, have our own strengths. We can only be who we are, fight to be better, and learn from our experiences. It will never be perfect. It will always be a mess. It always seemed so clean when I thought about life. I will just teach math, or I will just be a raft guide, or I will be a researcher. But you are not as savvy, as smart, as responsible, as you think you need to be to get it done. We can never live up to the expectations we build up for ourselves if we live in the shadow of our heroes.

Thoughtless flight 
Move on. Joan Didion wrote “innocence ends when one is stripped of the delusion that one likes oneself” and eventually ends with “to free us from the expectations of others, to give us back to ourselves – there lies the great, the singular power of self-respect”. Ultimately we cannot hold ourselves to the standard that we assume we need, or that others want us to have. We can move on in earnest, each journey is unique and what we can do is keep our heart and mind tuned into compassion, learning, and what we love.  Ultimately what others think can give us some guidance, but should be considered a small piece of the information we use to understand ourselves and chisel out our self- identity. We must live for ourselves.