This Expedition and The World

Dear Reader,

   I watch the news almost every evening with my Pápá. I wouldn’t ordinarily watch any news at all; “I can gather all the news I need on the weather report” (Simon and Garfunkel). And it only takes about 10 minutes of watching to feel like “all the news just repeats itself/ like some forgotten dream/ that we’ve both seen…” (John Prine). But it’s good for me to see all the stuff happening in the world. I don’t have my head in the sand. I realize what I’m doing and asking of society amongst everything that’s happening: the plague, the unrest, the unprecedented-ness. The question is: Why take on something that’s never been done at a time like this? When people are dying, when the economy is riddled with the virus, when people are at odds with each other, ego is rampant, and daily life is in ruins? 

   I think that this expedition couldn’t have come at a better time, and there was a reason that my adventuring has brought me to this point at this time. Yes, because of the state of the economy, it won’t be easier for me to obtain funding – but not impossible. Besides, this expedition is not just for me anyway. I think that this journey is happening at this time for a reason. If unprecedented things are happening, then it’s a perfect time for an unprecedented thing to be undertaken. We are at the cusp of the Technology Era – it’s as important as living during the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. I’m grateful that I landed here in 2021 in my mid-twenties – my life is ahead of me during a time of radical change and growth. The first tremors of the Age of Aquarius are being felt throughout all of humanity as we leave Pisces behind and forge a new path ahead – it’s up to us how we proceed: Do we learn and grow, or do we self-destruct?

***

   There’s very little left on this Earth to physically explore. We’ve mapped everything. There are no new land masses to “discover,” no oceans that haven’t already been crossed and recrossed, every mountain has been climbed and every trench probed. We’ve walked on the moon, catalogued our solar system, peered into the expanse of space. There’s no such thing as an “explorer” anymore – not like there used to be. The ones who call themselves “explorers” now (as I do at times) are really “expeditionists.” If we had been born in the past, we would have been explorers. Now, we’re just travellers, still haunted by the spirit of adventure despite having maps of everywhere we’re going. 

   There is one more thing left to explore, though – something we’ve always had, and something we as a collective whole desperately need to understand – our souls. We hold the expanse of the Universe in our hearts, for it is where we came from and where we are destined to always return. Anyone, anywhere, and at any time can discover the soul – but I have found that completely immersed in nature is where the cries of the spirit are the loudest, and where the voice of the Universe can be most readily heard. I am not alone in this philosophy, and am certainly not the first to experience its effects. 

   Additionally, when the body has been pushed to its limits, the mind follows. Only in experiencing the extremes can one find the edge. Venturing out into the static sound of the sea alone in a human-powered vessel is the best way I can think of to explore the soul. The Rivers – the Missouri, the Mississippi – have been a journey in learning and growth. They were my training ground, where I first stepped foot outside the noise of society and found a world that danced to a much different and ancient rhythm. There’s no reason why we can’t somehow combine the pace of society with the beat of nature – we are, after all, all one in the same thing. We just need the knowledge. We just need to explore, and learn. 

   Everything I’ve said has already been said, over and over for thousands of years. But maybe because I said it, someone will hear it for the first time. Maybe something I do will inspire someone to do something else. Society is made of people, so in order to change society, you just have to change people. Changing one person, helping one person, can lead to another good change, which leads to another. It is not up to me to change society – It is up to me to live my life, and it is my duty and obligation as a member of humanity to tell my fellow humans what I find on my path.

   There is a reason I have lived the life I have lived, and was given the ability to be able to write about it. There is a reason you are reading this. There is a reason for everything. Anyone can change the world – you just have to extend kindness to one person, get someone to look at something with a little extra love and the revelation of unity – and you have changed the world. 

***

   Pápá brings me stuff he’s reading sometimes – annotated with his underlinings. He says, “I thought you might like to read this…” and half the time he already brought that article to me but I pretend to read it again. He brought me a magazine called The Week and showed me an article about UFOs and aliens. He had underlined the end of the article, which read: “If extraterrestrials really are visiting us, said Glenn Harlan Reynolds in USAToday.com, this year would be ‘the perfect year’ to find out. After the pandemic, the murder hornets, and other bizzare events, humanity is finally ‘psychologically ready to handle alien contact.’ In 2020, an alien invasion ‘just feels right, somehow.’” 

   I would say that right now, a human doing the first circumnavigation of the Earth by rowboat…“just feels right, somehow.” 

   Here’s to 2021 – I’m here for it. 

“As long as there are human beings on the face of the earth, there will be adventurers. There are few among us. It is hard to break the chains of conventional life to pursue the unknown, to risk life itself to find a sense of peace and harmony with the natural world. It is best left to those few, for death is an all too real possibility when a man pits himself against the forces of nature. Yet we all owe a deep debt to the brave-hearted men and women who undertake the seemingly impossible, whether it is here on our brilliant blue planet or in the dark reaches of outer space. These are the truest of us, the ones unafraid to cast off the mundane and safe for the thrill of pushing the limits of human endurance, emotion, and powers of intellect. They are the heroes we can all admire, for they do it not for money or fame as much as for the noble quest that we all share and aspire to in our attempts to lead lives that bring out the best qualities of humanity while leaving the detritus behind in our wake.”

Daring the Sea, David Shaw (emphasis added)

8 thoughts on “This Expedition and The World”

  1. Wow this a good one also ! Yea John Prine sings about what you mentioned.He one of my favorite singers, his one song “In spite of ourselves” song with Iris Dement,cracks me up every time I listen to it funny as hell.In fact I just wrote down to add to my list of songs to sing when I ain’t crying or talkin to my friend the football “Mr Wilson Forrest, when I’m on river “I remember everything” I miss you like the roses miss the dew very moving song.Anyways what a pleasure reading your writings,I feel even closer to you when I’m reading these blogs.Anyways I woke up to another tent beside me one morning at a boat ramp near Memphis when I was on Mississippi, I was kind of in a joyful mood since I was just about to Memphis, and I never thought I would of survived them first 200 miles where I met Mississippi after canoeing 650 miles of Flat Water on Tennessee River, yea dam near lost my life and canoe them first 200 miles, had to learn “Old Man River”, quick man since I did not know shit about that river! Anyways learned everything the HARD way on that der River.Everytime I took a chance I got BURNED.Ill be straight up here I know that there have been a lot of folk that had a RELAXING adventure paddling or like yourself Rowing down that river, but old tow Head Steve NEVER RELAXED ONE DAM MINUTE ON THAT DER RIVER MAN !!! Maybe it was because it’s just so Fricken BIG maybe cause it was because it was so dam COLD maybe it was because the water temperatures were so dam COLD, but whatever “Old Tow” never relaxed enough to smoke ONE DAM CIGAR and tow likes to smoke BIG DAM GOOD cigars when he stroking! In fact I renamed the Cigars I had bought for trip “7 mile cigars” since they took about 2 hours to smoke and the miles traveled in that time ,a lot of the trip, was about 7 miles haha. Anyways kind of like the Voyagers of Old ,The good old “ canooks” used to measure miles or Rods by how many “Pips” it took them to get somewhere, meaning how many Pipe fulls of tobacco did they smoke to traverse a lake ha ! Funny but True.

  2. But I drifted off the Original point I started with ha I do tat a lot in my old age, can’t remember for shit anymore, but that’s ok cause tere a lot of shit I don’t WANT to remember from my old drinking days, that’s not counting all the shit I can’t remember cause I was so dam stumbling drunk to remember! Anyways I wakes up that morning and here this other tent beside me, hell I did not even hear him when he Set Camp, and hell i wasn’t even drinking! Well it turns out this cat HUGE Ian Musk fan, well I know a little about that guy fascinating Human, and his plans to put humans on Mars, but I had NO idea about this other stuff this guy was telling me, such as Terra Firming the planet with a type of Ancient Alge to produce oxygen on surface, planting a type of tree that only grows at Very high Altitude here on earth.But the thing that blew me away was this, if ya gonna put folks on Mars well most of them probably want to come back, well some of them at least and to do that you need the RIGHT KIND OF FUEL to get the dam ship back so they developed “Muskox” no I did not say musk oxn those guys that live in Arctic Canada in Nunuvat territory where I was supposed of been last summer after spending all my time and money planning a 50 day canoe trip on the “BACK RIVER” but the one thing I could not plan for was a fuckin microbe, and dam if they did not close the Canada Border cause of this virus, and that’s the reason I’m doin this trip, that and I got fuckin tired of lookin at Face Masks said to mees self I got to split this crazy scene.Anyways got off track again,so yea Musk came up with the right fuel to get the rich guys back to earth probably to watch Green Bay packers get beat again.But to do that Musk is building a whole factory on Mars to produce this fuel,and to do that he gonna use “Robots “ man they gonna build the whole enchilada! Right there on Mars .Amazing talk about the future HOLY WA THE FUTURE HAPPENING RIGHT NOW!!!!! There is a saying called “GRIN” and to me that’s the future baby, meaning genetics,Robots, Information,Nano. Those 4 things gonna pointe is into the future I believe. Anyways that dude in tent is really into Robots he was presently working on a project in Memphis A New Amazon facility where robotics play a HUGE ROLE in the center.Yea man hate to say it but in this regard a lot of folks gonna loose there jobs.The genetically Altered Alge that Musk wants to be using is being made as I write this stuff,in a facility near Nashville Tennessee.Yepper to that cat in that tent that I awoke to, Musk to him like Bear Bryant was to “I hear that “ folks in Alabama! This guy called him the “Modern day De Vinci” Things gonna change no doubt about it some forever, some not for better ! But I do BELIEVE THIS ONE THING, for the Human Race To Continue, we will have to go inner stellar this is a given ! But in the mean time I’m just gonna keep canoeing downstream in my new home,and I’ll use a cell phone on this trip but never again like I used to do on all my other trips in my life, and I got to be careful hiding that der phone on river, bayou, cause if any of my Traditional canoe buds saw it well I guarantee it would get pissed on, and if ya think about it what’s the whole dam reason for taking paddling trips “it’s to be dis-connected NOT connected” OH and one other beaver chew to mentioned ! More power to you ellen for rowing that old Grumman that I call “old reliables”. but you NEVER CATCH OLD TOW in that thing, but like ya said to me “ you would never catch yourself paddling that canoe of mine down the Mississippi “ haaaaa

  3. The Alge and trees will be used to produce the oxygen on the planet probably so the old lady can walk the dogs when they get there and the rich old men can watch the Green Bay Packers get Beat again, And have some peace and quiet and not hear the old lady ask him to take the garbage out ! But that’s for another day “What we gonna do with the trash on Mars , hell we ain’t figured that one out here on earth !!!

  4. The “Musox” is possible cause methane is big time plentiful on Mars and to folks reading this today NASA gonna land another river on Mars at 1540 EST today, hell I just found out about this today when I was watching weather channel , that’s the only thing Tow Watch on TV, but if I can’t listen to John Prine singing “in spite of ourselves” and rolling around on floor laughing well I can always switch the channel and get a Hell Of. A Laugh listening to those Nimrods on Fox News Channel ! And I’m lucky today to be able to watch that landing on Mars Today cause my Dear Old Sis she payed for another night at motel and I jumped on that like flies on poop ! quick before she changed her mind ! I was gonna roll today cause gettin low on dough and could not afford another nite in motel to let this crummy cold rainy weather to move out. Old tow been in enough crap weather on this trip, and whenever I can afford it will get motel room to AVOID COLD WINDY RAIN , I’m a real “Weenie” when it comes to cold rain hell I’d rather have Snow then that stuff !

  5. One more thing about the Future, there gonna be some Amazing things happening no doubt about it ! But sometimes I think to myself it would be nice to go “Back” in time, a time when there were NO GUNS! Tow has a real problem with Guns, guns to me means nothing but” DEATH “ ,I really don’t care how you justify owning one they ALL lead to the same end. If Tow had his way I’d take EVERY ONE of them and Melt em down ! But whatever we do DONT take em to Mars !!!!

  6. Ellen and Steve, the climate future is here. Sometimes I justify my “expeditions” as cataloging the natural world for posterity, were it to suddenly slip into the tailpipe of a Dodge Ram, or the barrel of a gun. Chief Seattle once noted that humanity will destroy the planet before it realizes you cannot eat money. To the end of robotics, and AI replacing jobs, Tim O’Reilley offers a more optimistic view in WTF: What’s the Future and Why It’s Up To Us. We’re already machine hybrids, this phone and Ellen’s boat are both examples. So much value is being added to humanity and the earth without even showing up on financial charts, or even miles paddled. The soul for one, the collective soul, so full of fear and anxiety these days, fueled by the news and political power factions. As Jack Johnson says, “Gotta turn that thing down, turn it around.” If anything, Ellen’s mission can offer a light in the harbor, “If she can do that without fear disrupting, surely I can fiercely love my neighbor who has a whole arsenal of assault weapons.” Who knows Tow, we might even be able to smelt all the guns into robots so that we can be more present at dinner with loved ones, which is so easy to do in the center of the Atchafalaya, but seemingly insurmountable in the city. The truth is, we’ll never know the full effect of Ellen’s trip, nor the switch to solar energy, but we can assume that value will be added to society by both that cannot be viewed in Taiwanese dollars or Guinean cents.

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