Tuesday, September 23, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

You see new peaks when you’re saying goodbye

MarionFranckW

By
From page A10 | July 07, 2013 |

Sometimes a quarrel creates a column, even a quarrel in my head. This happened 14 years ago when I wrote a piece titled “How accurate is our internal warning system for danger?”

My quarrel, which never reached the point of actual speech, was with one of the instructors at Otter Bar Kayak School in far Northern California. The instructor’s name was Peter and like everything else about this whitewater kayak school, he was top-notch.

He was also tall, good-looking and strong. At the time the quarrel-in-my-head happened, he must have been in his mid-40s. I was 52. I disagreed with him about what makes a good day on the river, but I liked him so well that when I wrote my column I broadened the topic, pulled my punches, and never sent him a copy.

Yet the whole experience came roaring back recently when I returned to Otter Bar and had Peter as my teacher again.

First, I’ll recap the 14-year-old incident that remains clear in my mind. I will quote from my old column, which began with my explaining that due to low water, we spent most of the week on easy runs.

I wrote:

“It was refreshing to work on skills, rather than adrenaline control.

“On Friday, my tension, which had melted like sunscreen on a warm back, reappeared as I listened to the ‘chalk talk.’ Peter, our head instructor, drew a graph to show that when a person boats entirely within his or her comfort range, that person may have a pleasant day but she won’t experience a ‘peak adventure.’

” ‘Take Marion’s run yesterday,’ he said, as the muscles tightened in my neck. ‘I asked her how it went and she said, “We saw a bear.” It doesn’t sound as if her skills were pushed much.’

“Because I like Peter, I didn’t argue out loud. But spotting bear tracks in the sand, then seeing the bear himself, black, shiny and active, had been a real treat. What’s so great about going into one’s zone of anxiety anyway, I wondered, when a person can find pleasure in observing nature? The week of easier water was going just fine.”

But by Peter’s definition I was not adventurous, and that stung.

I asked myself, “Is it OK to choose easy water, to avoid the adrenalin erush?” Does the same go for other activities, like selecting travel destinations or choosing a career?

Are we lesser people if we don’t push ourselves?

I’ve written about adventure several times since, defining and redefining it, still arguing with Peter in my head.

————

Flash-forward to this year, when on Thursday it was time for Peter to give the chalk talk. He walked to the front of the room and started drawing the same graph leading to “peak adventure” that he had used 14 years ago.

“Here we go again,” I thought, forgetting that things might have changed.

This may be Peter’s last year teaching at Otter Bar. This is not disappointing to him, but rather part of a happy permanent move to New Zealand, his country of choice. He’ll still teach kayaking, although possibly less often. During the past three years he has battled kayak-related shoulder problems, finally submitting to surgery on one side and, a year later, on the other.

No matter how much he loves New Zealand, it will be hard for him to leave his longtime kayaking students and his oldest American friends.

I wish I had exact quotations from what he said Thursday morning standing in front of the chalkboard, but I can give you my rendition. Bears did not come up, but adventure did.

“This week,” he said, “we’ve had some perfect days. Good, old friends out on the water. Just spending time. It was wonderful.”

My eyes widened.

“Peak adventure is great,” he continued, “but friends are what it’s all about.”

You could have knocked me over. I won the argument we never had out loud.

————

The next day was our last day on the water, and I had to decide between a difficult, pushy run — this year’s peak adventure — or one I found very manageable.

I chose the easier run in order to be with my oldest kayaking buddies, and we drew Peter as our guide. The old Peter might have been disappointed in us for taking the easy route. He might have been bored by such a day. If a bear had happened by, he might have looked at it, smiled, and then turned back to the river.

Instead, at the end of our day, he glowed. Speaking in flowered language I’d never heard from him before, he exclaimed about the simple pleasure of being with friends in a beautiful place. His dark eyes shone.

This doesn’t end the discussion about peak adventure. Whitewater kayaking is a thrill sport, after all, and I like that. But our discussion has reached a new place where we recognize that pleasure in life comes from more than thrills and accomplishment.

Seeing a bear.

Or being with friends and family.

— Marion Franck lives in Davis with her family. Reach her at marionf2@gmail.com

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

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

  • .

    News

    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

     
     
    U.S., Arab allies hit Islamists in Syria, Iraq

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

    Bob Dunning: These are the tanks we get

    By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    Wind threatens firefighting effort

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Harmony Award nominations sought

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    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

     
    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

     
    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

     
    .

    Forum

    Brother’s drinking out of control

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Daughter has her own opinions

    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

     
    .

    Sports

    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

     
    Blue Devils bounce back against Pleasant Grove

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    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

     
    .

    Features

    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    Carol L. Walsh

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

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

    By Creator | From Page: B5

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

    By Creator | From Page: B7