[...] the doubts start pouring out [...] the push to continue and then all the questions that are like so many thousands of little ropes tying you down, trying to paralyse you [...] you've got to break those ropes, you've got to move ahead, you've got to focus, and commit... and those are the hardest questions that you are ever asked by your surroundings or by yourself and [...] a river like the Stickine gives it to you both in a physical form and then in kind of this deep emotional form... the same things are true doing anything of value in life.... when something tremendously important is on the line, right then and there, the choice shows, determines who you are [...]
So speaks Doug Ammons: currently authoring "Blending with Nature: Essays on Whitewater Philosophy and Adventure" in which he explores what we learn from rivers and the natural world, and how these experiences change us - at levels which "culturally we don’t even have the means to express" as "an unarticulated but powerful undercurrent" in a "deep and profound step into [...] intimate awareness and understanding of the forces that shaped our planet"...
Doug talks of stepping outside and finding himself surrounded by forces he has no effect upon... and of this being part of what defines each day for every one of us - always there in other forms just outside our doors. He connects his adventure sport with the ordinary, everyday experience of living with the rain and snow, wind and sun, and of the "inner change" which can also come through hiking, bird-watching, or simply sitting quietly on the side of a river.
Learning to live in nature: not something which should be found challenging... but something few articulate even remotely competently.
The other articles on the website contain more insight that will be found in the tens of thousands of popular social media posts, blog entries, trip reports and so on... but they actually echo something which can be felt in so many of these ordinary, everyday contributions - that what's experienced really transcends any notion of "sport" and
"Almost every single kayaker I have ever met has said something that made it clear he or she felt a deep spirituality about rivers and a relationship to water. When we speak of kayaking as a sport, we focus on the wild surface action, first descents, challenge, fun with friends, surfing, waterfalls, competitions, but we know it is all of these – and much more right underneath. Yet, we have no language to describe this. We have been caught in a trap of our own making, stunting our vision and expression.
"Fighting with the river would mean we are out of sync with the very forces we have to work with. If they can cut through rock, dig deep canyons, roll house-sized boulders, and snap giant trees into kindling, then a human twerp in a plastic tub is nothing to them. Long after we’re exhausted and out of breath or need rest and food, the river will still be roaring out there, ceaseless, unrelenting. We can’t fight it and we can’t defeat it because it doesn’t care about us, and nothing we do on it, no rapid or waterfall we paddle changes it in the least [...]
"So let us redefine what [boating] is as a martial art - it is not an art of war or of killing, not even a form of self-defence. It is something much greater – it is the art of living in the midst of nature’s immense power, endless change, and potential death, while learning to blend in harmony with all of these [...]