The overall theme is expressed in the title: the adventure sports allow us techniques and ways to blend with the powers of nature. Within our culture this is nearly always framed as “fun” and “recreation” for most people, while for many of the most serious athletes it also segues into hip commercialism, which includes being a sponsored athlete, professional risk taking, competition, and providing media entertainment. However, I believe these materialistic things actually hide what is really going on at a deeper level.
Culturally we don’t even have the means to express what this deeper level is. You can find this quickly any time you start pressing people a bit about why they do the sports – there is an unarticulated but powerful undercurrent; even though they often use clichés, simplistic assertions, or even dismiss the questions, they will defend doing the sport as if it is life itself. The essays delve into what that is so. While Red Bull and Mountain Dew and all the other sponsored and commercialized branding is going on, the sports themselves are far more than mere sports for practically everybody who does them.
One way of expressing all this, is the compelling experience of blending with nature. At its core, this is a deep and profound step into a new modern “dao” – the intimate awareness and understanding of the forces that shaped our planet. Despite our culture pushing in almost the opposite direction, and despite many of the athletes having no predilection to being spiritual, thoughtful, or wanting anything other than the immediate adrenaline fix of paddling, this is an ongoing evolution of the human spirit, paradoxically wrapped up in “hey dude!” We can keep the discussion trivialized like it has been, taken over by materialism and bullshit, or we can look a bit farther.
Essays currently to be included in Blending with Nature:
- Introduction: Why a philosophy of adventure and water?
- The Future of Kayaking
- Why there are no limits in kayaking
- Is kayaking only a sport?
- Kayaking as a Martial art
- The Last Great Problem
- Are We Fooling Ourselves?
- Accidents and risk (with Will Gadd)
- Adding death (new version)
- Monty and friendship
- Design and progression (Physical gear, technique, and psychological changes in intent, skill, understanding)
- Professionalization and kayaking
- Cheapness, Bullshit, and Mindfulness
- The Line
- In praise of the unknown
- Films and flow
- Mountaineering and Kayaking
- Why are waterfalls special?
- Fear and the fundamental truth of rivers
- Artificial whitewater redux
- A Reminder
- The Games kayakers play
- Beyond kayaking games
- Of time ice and rivers
- Zen and Flowing Water
- Water and Music
- Art and Adventure
- Thule Bheri – geography and culture
- Spirituality and the natural world