From the Braver Institute
No, I’m not talking about being obsessivecompulsive, or about being some kind of weirdo stalker type. I’m talking about the one-track mind kind of obsessed. Once my mind is locked in that narrow focus, I don’t snap out of it until I have the object of my obsession. I am most easily obsessed with things that involve adventure, specifically outdoor adventure.
I think I may have always found the idea of adventure a bit appealing, and over the years what was once appeal has now turned into said obsession.
I know a lot of people think of adventure as some kind of grand expedition spanning the continents. Others think of adventure as being dangerous. I agree that these things certainly are adventure, but I prefer realistic adventures that don’t require years of planning or rappelling down the sheer face of the Matterhorn.
Adventure can be found just outside your front door. Adventure can be spur of the moment.
For me adventure is frequently going to places I have never been. While I have been all over the Upper Peninsula, there are still plenty of places here that I have not yet seen, but getting to them takes a little more work than driving up in a car.
Many of these places are far from roads (this is where the obsession part comes in). Hiking into remote areas led to an obsession with backpacking. I had backpacking on the brain, and read everything I could get my hands on about the subject. Hiking and backpacking could get me into places I had not been.
Next came mountain bikes. I spent countless hours pouring over manufacturer spec sheets until I settled on a bike. With a mountain bike I could get to these remote locations faster.
The idea that I could get to even more unreached areas by water led me to a rekindled obsession with canoeing. Canoes had allowed my best friend Denny and me to have access to areas around our boyhood home that most of the other residents didn’t know existed. We could paddle the narrow, shallow waterways that connected the lakes and ponds of our area, and discovered a world known only to the beavers and the muskrats that inhabited it.
My last adventure was in a canoe and was documented in this column.
Once I start participating in the activity of my obsession, the other obsessions don’t go away, they just move to the back burners of the obsession stove. They become more like awesome tools sitting in a toolbox, patiently waiting to be used again.
Recently I attended an American Canoe Association Adaptive Paddling Workshop at Bay Cliff Health Camp in northern Marquette County with my oldest daughter, who has cerebral palsy. Adaptive Paddling Workshops help people with physical disabilities get out on the water in kayaks.
Kayaks have been a back-burner obsession of mine for a number of years. I simply hadn’t been exposed to them enough. After the workshop I asked my daughter if she enjoyed it, and if she would want to go kayaking again. She said that she did, and she would. With that, the kayak kettle was immediately pulled off of the back-burner and placed on the front burner with the gas turned up high. I need a kayak … NOW!
In the past I had done a fair amount of research on kayaks and discovered that they can be insanely expensive.
There are also different types for different purposes. Some kayaks are made for small bodies of water, and some are made for big. The Upper Peninsula is abundantly blessed with both big and small waters, and this leads to a dilemma. Do I spend a thousand dollars on a kayak for the rivers and small lakes, or do I spend a thousand dollars on a kayak for the big lakes? Or do I buy both? But wait! Buying a kayak doesn’t solve the problem at all. Most kayaks are built for one person. If my daughter wants to go kayaking I need to buy a tandem kayak, which I have never looked into. They might cost two-thousand dollars each. Either that or I could buy kayaks for each of us, but to cover all of the bases, I would then need to buy four kayaks.
Wait. Hold it for just a second. Throw some water on the obsession fire. I work for a non-profit. I can’t afford a thousand dollars worth of kayak let alone four thousand.
Now I know that there are kayaks available at the discount sporting goods stores for much less, but like with so many things, all kayaks are not created equal, and a two hundred dollar, onesize fits-all kayak most likely would not work for a guy my size.
I have decided that I will buy a used kayak (or two, depending), and finding what I need to serve my purposes may prove to be a challenge.
The hunt is on. The adventure (obsession) begins.
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Waye Braver can be contacted on Facebook or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the Braver Institute at www.braverinsitute.com