I’ve had the privilege of getting to know many paddlers from Mississippi and beyond in the past five years. With the exception of one man I have probably paddled as many or more miles on more rivers in this state than any of them. I and my wife have kayaked many thousands of miles of these beautiful Mississippi arteries, and each experience is remembered because of what the river is willing to give us, not because we conquer her.
The only other person I know that has accomplished that kind of paddling is Ernest Herndon. Ernest has been a mentor to me in many respects and someone who I consider to be the Godfather of Mississippi paddling. Anyone lucky enough to have read Ernest’s writings will find a man completely in love with the rhythms of the river; her history, her beauty, and her subtle and sometimes not so subtle way of communicating the spiritual.
In the end, I have come to a conclusion. I may enter a race from time to time for the camaraderie of it all. But, I’m not in it to win it. Personally, it’s not about me against the river, or any other paddler, or my last time. I’m out there to forget time exists. I’m out there to lose myself, not own the moment.
Falling prey to the rhythm of the river is too great a temptation for me to overcome. Quite frankly, I’m more sure now that I don’t want to overcome it. It is in the adventure and discovery of something other than myself, that I find myself.
The river reminded me on Saturday that I don’t own her, she owns me. I see no reason to fight her on that.