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Being human on planet earth contains a yin and yang dynamic during the process of living.  Unfortunately, living life is time limited. That can be  both good and bad.  The bad thing is that the older one gets the closer they get to the terminal end.  The good thing is that the longer one lives, the  more experiences and stories are gained to better appreciate acquiring potential wisdom along the way.  As each additional experience accumulates to the total sum,  the more meaningful becomes the big picture of existence.

Looking back over my career of river guiding, enough time has now  elapsed to allow me a chance to see a broad spectrum of change over the years.  Unfortunately, meaningful does not always equate to better.   Like any antipodal position, anything can be seen with  an optimistic or pessimistic  worldview, depending on which way is chosen to look at the glass when it is at the half way point.  However, it is rare that the glass if at the half way point and in any case the more water that we drink, the less there is to satisfy our thirst.

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What do you thirst for? Thrills and adventure? Security and certainty? On a planet  defined by multiple boundaries, we live in a world that might best be described by containing a limited supply of  glasses.  Even concepts contain boundaries and are limited by our thinking, so lets just say one of those glasses holds our thoughts.

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If the earth contains ten full glasses of water, where each glass represents a frontier and water its natural resources, then the more glasses we drain, the less frontiers we have left. Once empty it is gone forever. Water is a closed system, which means there is always the same amount of water. However, how humans appropriate  that resource determines how much is usable.  Exploitation results when natural resources are victimized and extracted beyond sustainability.  Aside from human behavior, our own population numbers can also accelerate the rate of resource decline.

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Each time a glass reaches empty, we must find another full one to satisfy our thirst.  The more people we add and glasses we drink, the less chance of living longer we have. Even concepts like undeveloped and unpeopled areas, where we can still go in search of unlimited opportunities to  engage nature and experience new things, is diminishing at a faster rate in our modern times.

Each human we add to the equation, acre  paved over, tree  cut down, element mined, soil tilled, fish caught, or animal killed, at a rate where mortality exceeds recruitment, resources diminish until eventually extinction results. Likewise, concepts like frontiers are also not exempt  from total exhaustion in this same process of diminishment.  In my example, the tenth glass is the Last Frontier.  What will be do with it?

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In the early days of river running, I often went alone, exploring uncharted waters or rivers  that escaped the exodus of mass transit  wilderness travelers. Even when I eventually began guiding, we often had the drainage to ourselves and we certainly had only the most rudimentary of equipment.  Anyone and everyone that traveled with our own group, was an integral part of making a success of the shared adventure.  Unlike the more passive corporate rafting of today, we engaged raw nature eye to eye.

These days what passes for adventure, is more of an illusion and artificial experience.  Many guides are becoming more like glorified baby sitters. With the aid of modern highly advanced technologies and hyped up, but non-engaged type of encouraged zombism, trips today perpetuate more of a filtered experience.”  The entire affair is often dominated more by its entertainment value – where inactive participants can view the show as they would from a recliner with a bowl of popcorn.  Corporate guiding has become more like a magic show, where guides do everything for people and fool them  into feeling they are getting something which they aren’t.

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Nature deficit disorder is promoted by this kind of trickery.  It also describes  how much of our educational system works, or more aptly, does not work in today’s world.   When we get absorbed by our highly sophisticated technologies we ignore the real world at a perilous expense.  Biology and ecology are never not real, and  abra-cadabra won’t ever make artificial things anything other than what they are.

In the business world today in our country, everything  possible is done to reduce every possible risk because our culture has become so litigious. The entire system feeds itself and encourages more people to become less responsible. It is an atrophy of accountability at its nadir. Corporate rafting is a highly regimented,  overly scheduled, and extremely organized  to reduce risk and potential lawsuits.  In some cases, it reminds me of rafting with a straight jacket on.

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No amount of technology can replace understanding raw nature. The real beauty of education is that the more you learn and understand something, the more likely it is that you will work at protecting it.  Peeling back the onion, that is, disrobing ourselves from the machinery of sophisticated contrivances will better  reveal the center of the onion.  That is where the essence of an onions onionous resides.

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Why is knowing nature more intimately, important?  What if you are in the middle of a wilderness area and your gps breaks down  or loses power?  And you have no compass. What then?  What if your guide falls out of the boat, never to be seen again, then what? Will you panic or keep your wits? Throw your arms up and run, or sit back and relax to give your brain a chance to work more coherently?

FLAMES

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Do you know how to read nature so as to determine which way to go and how to get out? Can you start a fire, find safe water, make a shelter, crudely net a fish, navigate rough terrain, and have enough self-reliance to get yourself back home? Not that this would happen on one of our adventures. But at least, with us you will build confidence by actively living in nature for a brief pardon from the busy, hectic, high paced  world. There is no substitute for real world experience. “Good judgment comes from experience, and  experience comes from bad judgment.”

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Ironically, my theory is that often concentrating hard on what not to do, may  have more of a chance of making what you are trying to avoid actually materialize. Also, the more responsibility you to give people for their own actions, the more they will pay attention to what they do and their own well-being.  Inclusion, adds to group strength, exclusion reduces it. This in turn reduces risk in potentially harmful activities.

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Different rivers and rivers at different times provide various moods that affect experiences of those whom choose to travel these waterways to adventure. Having lived long enough to have floated far and wide, with a gazillion oar strokes along the way, I have been fortunate to have witnessed a lot of natural beauty “the river” always reveals. I’m also stubborn when it comes to keeping things simple, and focusing on sharing the essence of active engagement with nature to  more fully appreciate our common world.

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So, if you would like to join with us in an old-fashioned, more traditional, unadulterated, dance in the untamed wilds of otherworldly river adventure, give us a call:

Wapiti River Guides 800-488-9872 or if by cell phone, call 208:628-3523. For more info see: www.doryfun.com and our facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/Riverdoryfun

Philosophers with more wisdom than us have offered more profound words that better describe the mysteries and experiences you may feel on one of our trips:

“You cannot understand life and its mysteries as long as you try to grasp it. Indeed, you cannot grasp it just as you cannot walk off with a river in a bucket. If you try to capture running water in a bucket, it is clear that you do not understand it and that you will always be disappointed, for in the bucket the water does not run. To “have” running water you must let go of it and let it run. “

Alan Watts

from The Wisdom of Insecurity

“Life is like a river. There is no precharted way; there are no maps to be given to you which are to be followed.  Just be alive and alert, and then wheresoever life leads you go with full confidence in it. ……Allow it to lead you, don’t force it. Surrender to it and allow it to lead you towards the sea. Just be alert, that is all. While life leads you towards the sea just be alert so that you don’t miss anything.”

 -Osho

 You’ve been walking in circles, searching. Don’t drink by the water’s edge. Throw yourself in. Become the water. Only then will your thirst end.

-Jeanette Berson

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