Saturday, October 30, 2010

Human Significance: Gestalt or Granfalloon?

Between the lines are empty spaces. Must we be, as any lack-luster and idle species would, compelled to fill these voids of meaninglessness with bastions of our own hope that it all means more than it does?

Can we in one breath be content to flow thoughtless and submissive amongst the lines that define movement, without judgement or analysis, simply as a participant in the moment and nothing more until the past tense is all that remains; and yet in the next, attempt for our own worth and need for purpose to construct some make-shift structure that somehow links these same lines into some albatross of a sculpture, showing the greater sum that must be, and that we as the ultimate affectors proudly fill these spaces that have supposedly longed for inhabitance and explanation?

The river could care less whether we take anything away from our interactions with it or not. It is there before we arrive and remains after we leave, singing the same song. I doubt that after we leave, the rivers commune and relate, or share, about their experiences with the boat-tailed humans of recent, and pluck and bulletin the commonalities and nuances, gradually piecing together the grand picture that must have been in plain site all along.

Are humans so excessive with their ego-centric pilgrimage for meaning and validation that even the value of something as perfect as water responding to gravity simply floats right past us? Maybe the aesthetic of interacting with the movement of rivers is that our role or significance is nullified for once. Maybe it is a great opportunity to get as far as we can from trying to understand how we fit into something. A brief period where we can simply reduce right down to the one rule that governs it all. Without gravitation, the planets wouldn't have coalesced, nothing would be stable or diverse, there would be no life. Flowing with the waters is to lose your individuality and be absorbed by something much bigger than you as it responds to the most powerful force yet to be observed. What really needs to be said about this?

If I really practiced what I preached, I would stop midway through this sentence and get busy doing something else. There isn't anything that needs to be said to describe what boating means. It doesn't mean a damn thing. But I am after all a human being, graced or cursed, depending on your perspective, with such evolutionary success, that I can devote a portion of most days in my life to filling in the empty spaces with an attempt to share meaninglessness; spaces that for any other species would be booked long in advance with unconscious and raw actions in the blunt name of survival and procreation.

Having just failed miserably at trying to seamlessly link philosophy and physics with "what I did last weekend", posting any pictures at all, much less a clever quip or caption to accompany each, seems silly at best. The truth is that every experience with a river or any other natural counterpart is a gift, and we should be grateful for each one. Maybe a more reverent title for this blog would be "The Next Big Thank You". Regardless, I think it is best to try to showcase what the river gives us, and not what we have taken from it or what we have done.

And now for some fall boating shots:

Jim Janney, lost in the woods.

Speaking of what we give to the river,

Sometimes when you are lost in the woods looking for one creek, you stumble upon another altogether. Though I must mention that scale is a critical part of the mix.

Tony making some lemonade

The hysteria of not knowing where you are

By the time we got to Upper Wilson Creek, the water had already left for Lower Wilson Creek.

Little Stoney Falls at high water, no one to play with.

Sometimes things look uglier in person than when you see them on a hiking blog. Eagle falls is a prime example. But hey, it looks good in this picture, right?

Eagle Creek has one good drop for sure.

All of these creeks feed into the Cumberland River.

Dog Slaughter Falls

Jim Janney, engineer, boofer extrordinaire

This is the best 17 footer in the southeast.

Bark Camp Creek

Jim entering his final rapid of 2010.

Unfortunately as stated above, the river doesn't care.

If you see this view the morning after 2 inches of rain at Newfound Gap, it might be because you are going to the true arena of boof. An area so purely saturated in the notion of boof, that to try to freeze a moment of the experience in time is to exit it, thus spoiling the trance.

The new buzz thanks to Jim Strickland, Greenbrier

Casey Cutter soaking it all in

One of the bigger rapids, this run is class 3 heaven.

The front range scene on a Thursday night

One week later, more rain, and some true dawn boofing up Lynn Camp


If you ever get a chance, hiking up Thunderhead Prong is the
definition of aesthetic Smokies creeking.

John Trembley going blind off the big boof at the beginning

JT trying to keep the water out of his eyes in Whiteout.

Luckily after countless runs on Tremont and Thunderhead, I got to witness some fishing with Gandhi downstream. The clear bronze water with leaves layered throughout like a snow globe was surreal to experience. I can only imagine what it must be like to squirt this spot. Sign me up!

Taylor Martin resurfacing after a quiet conversation

Trying to fall back to a deep sleep, to rejoin the dreams that you left behind

Them boys aint even wurin life jackits


Andria B. Davis said...

Awesome! Your philosophy rings so true to me after enduring the Green Race buffoonery. Everyone trying their best to use the Green to show their significance in time and space. Yes, for me the river is much more than that--a place for a deeper experience than trying to prove something. You express what I started kayaking for and what I continue to kayak for. Something that is hard to define and ridiculous to put into an arena of arbitrary rules. Thanks for offering your photos and words to remind us what it's all about!

I want to go run those waterfalls--they look amazing! Maybe you could take us in there--we should go on an adventure soon!

Kevin Colburn said...

Greatly enjoyed your essay. Maybe boating doesn't mean a damn thing and at some scale beyond the personal it surely doesn't - but then neither does art, love, or life. I think of paddling as a form of expression, a means of experiencing beauty, and absolutely a means of rubbing elbows with gravity and the bones of the earth, and the crazy crust of life stuck to it. What greater compliment to a place than to create a beautiful and fleeting piece of performance art with it - to listen, look, feel, and dance to the music of frolicking physics. I think you nailed it, at the end at the day how can you not feel thankful. Cheers to the next big thank you.