Paddling To Stand Still

The water has always beckoned me. To borrow a line from that gorgeous Robert Redford film, A River Runs Through It, I am without a doubt “haunted by waters”. From my earliest recollections as a boy, and probably starting with sheer terror when I fell in a lake at age two and my dad fished me out, I’ve been constantly near, on, or under the water. It centers me, calms me, excites and mystifies me…and now, more than ever, it is healing me.

It’s been a godawful few years. I turned forty and all hell broke loose in a maelstrom of shit. I went through a painful divorce after ten years of marriage, my father died after a short and valiant battle with cancer, my favorite dog of all time passed, and I suffered a couple health issues that made me take stock of my life and just what I was meant to be doing here. I won’t bore you with the details, but trust me when I say I wouldn’t wish the last three years on anyone. Oh, there were bright spots, to be sure, but the overall shadow of loss was omnipresent and incessant. Just when I thought I was on the surface long enough to catch a breath, another wave would crash down on me like an exploding exclamation point…I’m not done with you yet! See how you like this!

I’m breathing now, slowly and methodically, trying mightily to focus on the present, and counting my blessings. The water has continued to call, and I have sought refuge in it’s embrace. From long before the major hurricane of my life landed onshore, I have had an intense love of paddling and surfing waves. Be it whitewater kayaking, canoeing, surfing; the joy of stroking forward on the surface of a lake, river, or ocean swell has been more therapeutic for me than any session with a counselor.

Not long after my father’s death I purchased a stand up paddle board. I had been toying with the idea of doing so for some time, but after such a profound loss I could no longer come up with a reason not to. Life is here one day, gone the next, and knowing how transient we all are in the grand scheme of things made me have a carpe diem moment. Sure, cost was always a factor, but you really can’t take it with you, and I justified my purchase by emphasizing the health benefits of such a fantastic core workout. And believe me, it is a core workout. And not just the twisting and pulling from your torso as you propel the board over the water, but the core of my soul. I have become an evangelist for the sport and its healing properties. It is forward motion while centered and standing still.

I don’t think anything gets me more excited than planning where to paddle next; what lake, river, estuary, or ocean break demands to be explored. That is essentially what this publication will be about: My paddling adventures in Northwest waters. I will offer practical advice and philosophical anecdotes, trip planning tips and local knowledge.

I invite you to come along for the ride.