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Kayak Quixotica

Posted Aug 24 2006 12:00am
I don’t sit and wait
I don’t give a damn
I don’t see the point at all
No footprints in the sand
I would give you all my love
Nothing else is free
Open up your heart to me
And I would be your slave
-bowie

You can call me stupid, crazy, or just weird, I can live with it. It’s ok. Still I will go on with my quest. You see when we’re children we can find adventure in our own back yard. We can explore the vast unknown in just an hours time. Children never limit the opportunity for adventure by ridged adult rules. As we grow older become jaded. “Fun” is “mature”. Adventure must be traveled and paid for. We don’t play silly games. We don’t laugh at jokes that don’t contain double-entendre. It worrys me. It’s something I’m trying not to let happen. You see, as much as I enjoy big adult adventures I know that sometimes we can’t go to Disneyland. Sometimes we have to make our adventures out of cardboard and string. We must find our jungles under the maple tree. Children know that. Imagination and discovery carry them into far off lands. I’ve never been sure if I like maturity. I’m not sure I quite get it all. And I just keep hoping that maybe, just once in awhile, at 41 I can still be a lost boy.

I got up this morning to email from a friend. I couldn’t help but smile! I wanted to let the fingers fly over the keyboard. I wanted to play. But soon I was pulling out my pinstripe suit and choosing a tie. Something rare these days, but I had a proper business meeting. When one meets a potential client in the aerospace industry, one wears a tie. We talked in our professional tongues. After our business was behind us we waxed on about our connected world. We mourned the loss of time without connectivity. “Connectivity” is a word devilishly double edged. I am not the first to answer a cell phone from a kayak or to look for a hotspot near my campground. We are rarely alone. With a shrug, those of us gathered around the table accepted our modern fate.

But I’m an odd one. As I’ve often been told. I couldn’t accept that MY fate was so mundane. I had control. We All have control. I can play. So coming home from that meeting I was determined for a little back yard adventure. I set my heart on the deepest, darkest jungle. And soon I was there. I found myself carrying my kayak almost a mile through bramble and forest to a little known gorge just a 12 minutes drive from my home. One that I dare say has never seen a kayak, or any boat I imagine. It is not navigable by any sense of the word. Just a small stream passing through rock over small drops into deep, dark, ice water pools until finally emerging from cold stone walls and again taking form as an unremarkable stream trickling through rural, red barn, farm fields.

By fallen trees on a small sandy wash, I launched out in my little red kayak. I paddled into a dark cavern below the final fall. The air was nearly as cold as the spring fed water beneath me. There hidden from the sun, I reached for the bottom with my paddle. I hit it just as my fingers touched the water. Suddenly rain fell in a momentary torrent from a single rebellious cloud. Then with a deep breath, I braced for the cold, and dropped into the darkness. In just my tee-shirt it felt as if I were diving naked into a snow drift. I floated in cold, dark space. Then, I was again on the surface, listening to the sound of my breath entwine with the tin roof splash of the falls and bounce around the stone walls of the gorge.

As I paddled back out into the sun, I knew I had done something no other human had ever done before. I had rolled a kayak in a little “who cares” spot called Pewitt’s nest. The adult in me knew that it meant nothing. But the child felt like it meant everything. It was an adventure. If only a tiny one. Sometimes I wish I could share that feeling. But these days, I often feel like the last kid at the playground.

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