Tuesday, September 23, 2014

An adventure talk raises question for me


From page B6 | April 28, 2013 |

I wonder if we miss opportunities by hearing speeches only once. We go to plays multiple times (Shakespeare, anyone?), hear a second, third or hundredth performance of a song by a favorite artist, and make repeat visits to museums.

But when it comes to the spoken word, we only hear once.

Last month I broke that pattern by going on two different occasions to hear the “author talk” of Jo Deurbrouck, whose nonfiction book about two risk-taking river men won a National Outdoor Book Award in 2012. Even though her speech and slides were the same on both occasions, I was engrossed.


Her book, titled “Anything Worth Doing,” chronicles the adventures of two men who were obsessed with creating and achieving their own unique river goals, no matter how “crazy” or difficult.

In 1988 raft guides Jon Barker, 25, and Clancy Reece, 43, rowed from the “source to the sea,” 912 miles from eastern Idaho to the mouth of the Columbia River in Washington, including some 500 miles of flat water. Eight years later they joined up to speed-run the Main Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho at ridiculously high water, and the older man perished.

Neither of their journeys were of Mt. Everest quality or texture. Neither became historic in the rafting community, except among people who knew the men. Thanks to Deurbrouck’s well-told tale, their journeys are now memorialized in print, but I’ll be surprised if anyone ever decides to repeat their adventures. Their choices were too obscure.

Deurbrouck’s talk encourages you to think about other adventures, especially your own. She offers her definition of adventure, which I wrote down. I admire its poetic phrasing, and I think it captures truth.

“An adventure is an experience or a journey, but most often a journey, that has at its heart a compelling story. That story has at its heart a goal and the goal must be challenging. The storyteller must commit. It’s not an adventure if you’re willing to quit when you get tired or if someone tells you you can’t do it.”

By that definition, the two men in her story had a grand adventure, although it won’t show up in National Geographic. I asked myself, “Have I had an adventure?”

I bopped around alone in Europe during college and traveled to Nigeria in my late 20s. Recently I went to Vietnam and Cambodia with my husband, although I don’t think a tour counts as adventure. I’ve gone on many whitewater kayak trips, but none compare to the kind of thing Barker and Reece did. I stay on water that someone of my skill level is always expected to survive.

Nevertheless, I view some of my trips as adventurous because, although they wouldn’t challenge a more experienced person, they did challenge me. This happens to other people, too. If you’re elderly, out-of-shape, inexperienced, or mentally-challenged a moderate adventure can become an amazing feat, and if the challenge is sufficient, the world watches, such as when Mark Wellman, a paraplegic, climbed El Capitan.

Towards the end of her talk, Deurbrouck, 50, turned to the topic of age, and stunned me when she suggested that one way of giving into age is to give up on adventure. She talked about her own plans to take up a new sport (sailing) and travel around the world with her husband.

Do I need a new adventure to carry me through old age, to make it fun, to make it purposeful? At this moment, I have no such plans. Maybe that’s why I went to hear the speech twice.

But listening a second time, I realized that by Deurbrouck’s definition, another of my adventures is still in progress.

The greatest adventure of my life, the one that meets her definition perfectly, the one where I truly stepped off the edge without knowing what would happen, where I totally committed, where I knew I’d never quit, is an adventure I share with most humans. I became a parent.

The parenting adventure unreels in glacial time. At any given moment, you don’t feel the risk. But it’s there, in a thousand ways. Will you do something that hurts your child? Will he make poor choices? Might he be stricken simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time, as happened at last week’s Boston marathon? Will you be a good parent to your child when he is 2? When he’s 16? When he’s 35?

The length of parenthood makes me think of the 912 miles Barker and Reece rowed to the sea, but parenthood is harder. At 456 miles, Barker and Reece knew they were halfway there. Not so with parenthood. All of sudden your child returns home. Or loses her job. Or needs you to care for a grandchild.

I imagine that as Barker and Reece traveled down rivers, most of the time it felt safe and certain — until it wasn’t. Then the adventure accelerates. Parenthood is like that, too.
— Marion Franck lives in Davis with her family. Reach her at marionf2@gmail.com



  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .


    UC joins U.N.-supported Principles for Responsible Investment

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1

    Nature’s beauty is in our own back yard

    By Charlotte Orr | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Jury finds Dixon man guilty of mortgage fraud

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A1

    Harmony Award nominations sought

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Baha’is celebrate 50th anniversary in Davis

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Downtown gift cards get a new perk

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Unscheduled landing

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    Free community yard sale Saturday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Street Food Rodeo rolls into West Davis

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Wolk kicks off ‘Morning with the Mayor’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    So you want to be an entomologist?

    By Kathy Keatley Garvey | From Page: A4

    Sheriff’s Office honored for safe-driving initiative

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Pets of the week

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Forum will answer questions about new license law

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    Applications open for Biberstein grants

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10



    Brother’s drinking out of control

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

    We must not stand for perpetual war

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Don’t cut all the trees

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    A great Day in the Country

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Donors support school matinees

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    A big Explorit thanks!

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Teacher tenure becomes key campaign issue

    By Tom Elias | From Page: A6

    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6



    Blue Devils bounce back against Pleasant Grove

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Running game powered Devils in first football win

    By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Davis field hockey team rights ship at Lassen

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    Devil golfers soar past Sheldon

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    UCD roundup: Aggie women reach finals of East/West golf tourney

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2Comments are off for this post | Gallery

    U11s get a win in an eventful weekend of youth football

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

    A’s support Samardzija in a win over Angels

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8







    Carol L. Walsh

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4



    Comics: Tuesday, September 23, 2014 (set 1)

    By Creator | From Page: B5

    Comics: Tuesday, September 23, 2014 (set 2)

    By Creator | From Page: B7