Why is Solitude Important?

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We enter and exit the world alone. It is all the time in-between, while we experience it, that affects how much joy we have from the perception of  our place in the everyday world.   Alone and aloneness are not the same thing. If we become attached too much to others or things to make us feel happy (psychologists call this “object referral,”) then without those stimulants we will feel distressed, depressed, and/or unhappy.

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An important  human goal is to become content when you spend time with only yourself.   Another rule of nature also applies when in pursuit of this basic goal:  use it or lose it.  If you wish to be happy more than sad or lonely, practice being content with the only one you are really with 24/7 as that person will always be your shadow.  So not to worry. It Is ok to talk to yourself.  After all, we do it all the time anyway, so it is more important to evaluate what we say to ourselves, than trying to hide our self-talk from others.


So what do we need for purity of thought to hear only ourselves and not be bombarded by other voices and sounds that dilute our thinking? Solitude, is the simple answer. It is the fundamental place where we can exercise our ability in coping with ourselves.   Anywhere you can go to be totally alone, without the distractions of other people, is getting harder to find these days. Thus, it is even more important to find  where only your voice can be heard, and your mind free of chatter and clutter of other humans.

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Solitude allows us to practice enjoying life experience in a more purified form. unsanitized, undiluted, unadulterated, untechnologicalized, and back to basics. Cell phones and any computerized technology when used to extremes turn us into conditioned zombies. We lose ourselves to become the machines that dominate our lives. If you find yourself foaming at the mouth when you can’t find your phone, or the internet it down, or being digitally dis-connected to someone or some thing has been shut down, then you are most likely addicted to technology.

Recent studies show that a big problem with always being hooked up to our high-tech gadgets is that our attention is divided between the world of the people we are with and this other reality – the place of digital connections that only simulate being plugged in to others.  As we walk the streets with our head down, absorbed by tiny screens and buttons, the human next to us is not on our radar, despite being only inches away.  Why do we favor such connections, or dis-connections?  Could it be akin to comparing life in the city where people can hide in the crowd, while people in small towns know everyone else’s business and can’t escape the gossipy grapevine?  Privacy is a valuable thing.

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In our digital world, everyone, town or city, can hide from real world interactions. We can be free to say things we wouldn’t say normally face to face. The conversation is changed when we use technology to communicate.  People won’t invest much in a conversation when knowing that at any moment the person you are talking with will be interrupted by someone else trying to connect with you by the intrusion of that cell phone ringer.

Thus, our communications with people become more surface, and less depth where more of the meaning of what our human being-ness resides.  And if we continue to ignore our own inner depths, loneliness will creep into dominating our life and therefore impact negatively our real happiness.

What is the answer to this dilemma? How about a place to find some solitude for a remedy to being disconnected. Connecting back to self, will help you appreciate the world and be content being alone, for in reality you are never really all alone. In nature, many things will talk to you if you take the time to tune in and listen. The burbling, gurgling streams, the chirp and chatter of  otter, eagle and chipmunk, just to name a few. Solitude in nature is where nature speaks loudest. Being solo in the wilds allows a person to hear what was intended for humans to contemplate without distraction. Birth and death are natural, but in-between we get bombarded with many distractions to keep us from appreciating the value of nature and why we are here. What is more important, the illusion of being connected to everything by our contraptions, or the reality of being truly connected by how nature connects us without such high technology?

No telephones, just a call from the wilderness. Will you answer it?

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Or make your own call, and contact the Wapiti Clan at 208:628-3523 and we will deliver you unto solitude.


The Beauty of a Circle

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Jack’s send off ceremony was held on Oct 13, 2013 on the Salmon River, ten miles upriver, at the giant eddy at Spring Bar Launch and Campsite.  This was and continues to be an ancient Nez Perce place of importance, but now more of a bi-cultural mixing grounds where all those who truly love this place often gather.

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After ending our sacred boat circles at the Spring Bar Eddy on the Salmon River, in tribute to our passing river friend Jack Kappas, the power of circular motion continued on.  I learned later that while a few people shared more stories around a shore side campfire after our more official ceremony, other friends were fishing below the sacred eddy as their chosen way of extending memories. They hooped and hollered when they caught 5 fish, as they were listening softly to ipod music, Jack would have liked, and felt his help urging steelhead to bite their lines, was with them.

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In addition, when Charlie and Lesile headed homeward, they spotted a bald eagle sitting on the rocks at Hippie Beach, which then flew upriver towards Spring Bar. They too felt like it was Jack heading back upriver again, keeping an eagle eye on the river he loved and friends who loved him. Perhaps that eagle’s flight was part of the help for those fishermen upriver and their prized steelhead.



The day after our memorial three of us (Kristin, Barb, and me)  that were also close friends with Jack, gave his  “Uncle Ernie”, a  tour of the canyon and showed him a few of Jack’s favorite places.  He felt bad that he had never visited our area to take advantage of Jack’s many invites to get him on the river. But, we assured him he was now here and fulfilling that need, all the same, though in different form, Jack would be happy.

Before we left the canyon we had one more final tribute to pay, as the two girls forgot to get Vic’s (Jack’s favorite chocolate lab ) hair and a few fragmented bones that Jack had saved after his dog  drowned in the Salmon River, and I forgot my drum for our original ceremony, so we gathered at the side of the sacred eddy to complete or intended circle of both in a special riverside ceremony.

After entering Vic to the river, then some drumming with three last solitary beats, one each for the 3 ceremonial  boat circles, as Nez Perce consider that number sacred, ending with one moment of silence. Astonishingly, but not surprisingly,  a fish jumped near where Vic had been entered to re-join Jack.  It reminded me of a favorite  quote: “Silence is the voice of the Great Mystery” and how mystery permeates everything in nature.


A couple of days later I took Charlie fishing upriver, and we had a wonderful day on the water. We shared many stories, about Jack, other river friends, and a gamut of subjects. Kirk was also fishing below us, and I had to tell Charlie about some “Wapiti Moments” that Kirk and I had on the Grande Ronde years ago, along with the original 5 (including Jack) of us who attended the ground-zero salmon and dam breaching hearings in Lewiston years ago.

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The day was long and we did not see Kirk again until end of the day when we both arrived at the ramp about the same time. the three of us shared more stories about Jack, those crazy “wapiti moments” (when things go south, and ingenuity kicks in for survival) and other pertinent things that tie river people together, especially this special  place in the canyon.  We all have  our own life circles and stories, and as we ended our fishing day united at the ramp from our separate loops, did we yet come full circle again as the sun slowly set into the far beyond.  We all had smiles on our faces, just as the ancients smiled down on us. Knowing all the while, with each new day, all  those smiles will soon be returning.

Great beauty is truly found in the circle.

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Erosion is the way of nature.

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Roll on river, roll on.

Tribute to Jack Kappas (1946-2013) – Jack’s Last Run

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Unlike a straight line, defined as the shortest distance between two points, a circle continues on forever. Like some folks description of God, no beginning, no end, just always was, always is.


Many things in nature are round and cyclic. The shape of our planet, all celestial satellites, billions of suns and zillions of galaxies, all spin forever re-looping back upon their trajectories, over and over like a natural perpetual motion machine.


Such is the way of life and death on our home in a restless universe, as we whirl about the immensity of space. When those of the living lose a loved one, through all the terrible grief of the untimely moment, comfort can also be had in the realization that nothing really is ever lost.  Chief Seattle once said, “There is no death, just a change of worlds.”

So, though none of us know for sure what the Great Mystery will tell us, if anything, when we pass on to be recycled cosmically, the spirit trail we leave behind will still fill the hearts of the living as memories and stories as evidence of our presence in the giant scheme of things.

All will be touched differently as they think back of their experiences with a loved one that has passed, perhaps remembering their face in the maw of a huge whitewater rapid, or a simple smile in the reflection of a calm pool. All add beauty to the circle of life and death, and will always be in motion just as nature intended it so.


Our good friend Jack, a cherished member of a beloved dory boat family, used to row the Glenn Canyon when he worked for Martin Litton’s Grand Canyon Dories back in the days of old.  It was a fitting dory boat name, as Jack was a staunch supporter of breaching four dams on the Snake River to help bring back salmon and the true life spirit of the river. He appreciated science and the natural free flowing way as the proper law of nature.


When he first came to the dory world he came on one of his first apprentice trips with me on the Owyhee River. I remember him in the front of my boat when I entered the wrong side of a bad rock garden and all hell broke loose. Not sure how we made it without a bump, and right-side up, but we did.

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So, now that Jack has moved on to navigate the celestial Milky Way, and even bigger cosmic challenges, perhaps I will come to do some apprenticing behind him, in some future time. Such, is the way of the circle.

As an old boatman’s saying claims: “We never grow too old to boat, we just get a little dingy.” That is, before we all eventually step into our eternal spirit boat. As Jack follows those boatmen and boatwomen before him, and we who will eventually all follow, shall the circle be unbroken.

The one thing about legacies, especially left behind by river people, is a fitting line from Philip  Pullman,  taken from the famous dory tale of the speed run through the Grand by fellow boatmen bonded by common dory world friendships,  in a book by Kevin Fedarkos (now also a part time dory guide) entitled the Emerald Mile:

“Thou shalt not” is soon forgotten,

but: “Once upon a time” lasts forever.”

On one of Jack’s boat pads he wrote the line: “I’ll be right back.”  To that I might add, see you in the stars, Jack, once upon a time.