Paddling North by Audrey Sutherland is a wonderful book. It’s an exciting and bold adventure. And it made me wish I could have spent just one evening round a campfire with Audrey, soaking in some of her wisdom. Here are a few nuggets from her book:
‘¢ The philosophy is still the same. Go simple, go solo, go now.
‘¢ I didn’t need to get ‘œaway’. I needed to get ‘œto’. To simplicity. I wanted to be lean and hard and sun browned and kind.
‘¢ ‘œGetting older, aren’t you, lady? Better do the physical things now. You can work at a desk later.’
‘¢ Sometimes you have to go ahead and do the most important things, the things you believe in, and not wait until years later, when you say, ‘œI wish I had gone, done, kissed’¦’
‘¢ Adventure. The word is ad-venture, to venture toward. No big declarations of peril, challenge, daring, conquest, No guarantee of making it. Just trying toward.
‘¢ ‘œon these trips I’mm not really alone. We’re a trio. The paddler sizes up the conditions and does the physical labor. The critic sits on my shoulder and nags and growls that I’mll never make it, and the writer stands back and laughs, trying to put the three of us into the reality of one grubby body, and also into words for the journal that night.’
‘¢ ‘œHere. Put a tiny cabin here, and stay and live and watch the sea.’
‘¢ “Cabins should have the sea in front and a stream in back and a window view of each.On the deck should be a place to sit with arms hugging knees while watching the changing light.”
‘¢ Be kind, keep learning, be responsible.
‘¢ ‘œIf you had a year to do anything you wanted, and had all the money you needed, and could come back to where you are now, what would you do?’ Most people had been living on expediency: what needed to be done that hour, that day. They’d never asked the big question. When they had the answer, my next question was, ‘œWhy aren’t you doing it?’ Then came the obvious answers. ‘œI don’t have the money. I do have kids, a family, a job, a mortgage.’ ‘œWhen can you do it? Can you do part of it? How can you plan toward it?’ We all need to ask those questions every five years, then act on the answers. You get plenty of advice on planning your whole life, but five years is long enough. After age 50 you can narrow it down to a two-year plan. Beyond 60, it’s a one year plan. Beyond that?
‘¢ Doing what you want to do isn’t a question of can you or can’t you, yes or no, but deciding what your ultimate desire and capability is and then figuring out the steps to accomplishment. It’s ‘œI’mm going to. Now how? What gear will I need? What skills will I need? What will it cost? When will it happen? When I succeed, what next?