On this special trip we had a variety of ages and experience, and, without really knowing the definite ages our youngest member was18 and had one person from each of the twenties, thirties, forties, and fifties run the middle feather together. There were stories of getting locked out of hotel rooms naked, the politics of the high school dating scene, first ascent in Chile in long boats, toddlers first steps, marriage, and of course the sight of man butt. How could you possibly go through a river trip without the sighting of man butt? Impossible.
Thinking again of the cycle within all sports, of learning, teaching, and exploring, we must treasure the opportunities that we have to be with those who have experienced much more than us, as well as less. Both perspectives challenge us and push us to think in new and innovative ways, but also forces us to comprehend why we are where we are. We are pushed and pulled to deepen our thinking with regard to our place in time, our decisions, and our current strategies.
Mixed group activities humble all of us and allows us to develop compassion for others. We remember the challenges we once had, and we see the possibilities for our future lives in those who are living our dreams. We can literally ask someone who embodies our future selves "What is it like to have kids?", "How do you deal with death? What can we learn from what the river has to teach us?", "How do you think about paddling easy or hard rivers with a partner or family?" or "How do you scout and make decisions about rapids safely?". The best thing is that they have answers, answers rooted in years of reflection and experience.
There is something more subtle here as well. It is hard to meet people in the outdoor lifestyle that have continued to do it for decades. Finding these people provides some sense of relief, some sense that this life is sustainable, that it is worthy of adulthood and can be part of a healthy, well rounded person. Often, at least in the media, there is this sense that kayakers and outdoor people are these extremists that are devout athletes only to the sport they love. Meeting kayakers who have a family, and real jobs soothes my soul, it allows me to believe, at least briefly, that we are normal, run of the mill people. This is comforting sometimes, because it is just refreshing to feel like part of a community that fills the human lifespan. What we do is real, and can be enjoyed for a long time, at a high level, and that is something to celebrate.
Thank you Jay, Andy, Phil, Kevin, Drew, Kurt, and Eddy for a wonderful trip.