“You have to get up to go up” a story by Pete and Max

You have to get up to go up

 

Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.—Pudd’nhead Wilson’s New Calendar.

 

method writer

1.A writer or author who uses a technique of writing in which he/she identifies emotionally with a character in the story and assumes that character’s persona in the telling. Novels and stories exhibiting this style are almost always first person. This writing style allows insights into a character’s motives, reactions and thoughts that usually can only be inferred from other styles. Author’s using this technique may describe the sensation of writing as if they were spiritually channeling the character.

Notes to Self…

Prior to a going off hiking by your self you may want to consider putting these things  into your bag

  1. Swiss army Knife or pocket knife
  2. Flashlight or head lamp
  3. Waterproof bag, with extra socks, polar vest and clothes
  4. A Water bladder
  5. Compass ( there is one on your phone but that runs on a battery)
  6. Map ( the more details the better)
  7. A simple First aid kit with moleskin, band aids, antibiotic lotion and tweezers
  8. Book…lighter and matches
  9. At least one Bandana (one for your neck and the other for your head)
  10. Simple trail food (trail mix, fruit, Gatorade)
  11. Toilet paper (think about this one..both sexes hike)
  12. Surveyor tape ( helps you not get lost but misplaced)
  13. Cell phone
  14. Wallet and keys

Remember that it is commonly suggested not to hike on your own…

If you hike alone prepare for the Consequences

The mission…Hiking up Mt Finlayson

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Vital Data on Mission

By Pete and Max

“I am an idiot”, I recall a fellow colleague who used to start her mornings with this proclamation prior to attempting to teach quantum physics. Perhaps it was just her own humble way of coping with the grandeur of particle and universal wave energy. Each day, over the last fifteen years, I had also paid homage to my own inner goof prior to attempting to share some wisdom on the ways of science and biology. If anything, I can honestly say that I am a survivor. Put me in a planned or real fire fight, a leaky boat in turbulent seas, or invalid and in and out of surgical wards for five years and I will survive. Put me in a classroom and whether it is coping with impending bankruptcy, a divorce, the challenges of single parenting two kids or just keeping my nose above water, and I will keep my boat a float strictly in survival mode. Though I kept my reflections to my self, I could truly empathize with her deep seeded of her sentiment and I had followed the same cyclic patterns of thought. We all have to question our own actions. Sometimes, the actions just do not make sense. So as I lay on a folded sleeping bag and listened to the morning rain continue to fall on my tents fly, I knew that I too had once again been an idiot.

If I were to follow the path of my own life, there is no end of examples when I have decided to do something only to discover my own lunacy later and after the fact. Whether it was pride, loneliness or random mental rumble tums through a vivid mental landscape that only my mind can create, I quietly confessed to the clouds that I had been stupid and I that I was truly sorry. What was really rolling around in my noggin was that when your own stupidity causes another to be angry, it is best to admit guilt, own it and plan some form of resolution. So there I was, listening to the continual hissing of the rain and pondering a hike up a geological feature known as Mt Finlayson.

My morning meditative actions were interrupted by another voice that I have now come to recognize as my dog spirit Max. Confess this stuff to folks in your day to day and the chances are a nice white jacket and a cornucopia of meds may come your way. However; place these facts into a fictional tale and all sorts of possibilities come into play. Max loves to have me go off on hikes. He seems to take great delight in seeing me resort to crawling through boulders on all four legs. While I was busy coming up with excuses to forgo a few hours of humping it through the woods, Max and my bladder had other intentions. One of the insightful lessons that Max has retaught me is to sense the world through your nose and ears. Even before I could see the morning runner, I could already hear his footsteps and smell his sweat or was it me? Just prior to the outhouse he stopped and bent over and panted. I asked if he was running to use the facility. My remark brought both a laugh and a quick nod for me to jump in post haste.

Afterwards, I asked him about whether it was wise to go hiking today. A light drizzle of rain was still falling. Of course, asking this individual was not the wisest of choices. This person had already worked up a sweat thundering through the country side prior to me emptying my bladder. He did recommend good boots and stated that lots of folks enjoy this hike. The term “enjoy” and hiking is some what of a joke for me. My reluctance to go and “enjoy” tromping over terra firma was insanely tested by some day long marches with Uncle Sam’s misplaced children. Thankfully, while Max was alive, he used to inspire many a mile of sniffing and crawling through all things putrid and now..well he was now up to his trick again.

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After parking my trusty old Eddie Bauer truck “ataboy”, I proceeded to look at the map the attendant at the office gave to me. It even included contour lines, which gave it an air of authenticity. I loaded up my pack with the basics including a heavy novel and a huge camel back of water ( drank the whole container and had to refill)  just to make this “hump” into a test of what I could do. Prior to the trail head I had already been warned about what fates may occur. What the sign did not explain was that there were some flaws in in the ministry map. Notice the distinct lack of Bear Mountain Golf course and the North side trail to summit.

map_of_mt_finlayson_and_goldstream_park

To step up my mood and throw caution to the wind, I choice path number two which was a wonderful wilderness staircase . Looking at the map, this  trail was the alternative to a gradual saunter through the woods. I had seen these type of lures in the past. “yes, you are about to commune with nature in a rigorous faction, so here is a test, a rapid ascent via some stairs”.  Why do they put the beginning of so many trails these day? Is it a wake up call? Is it the park boards way of saying “if you cannot handle this..please do no go up this trail!”. Be it the Grouse Grind, the Sea to Sky and even a fun hoof in Deep Cove..the hike begin with a set of stairs. So as I stretch out my thighs and took in the view, Max just snorted and started to take in the odors of the day and then he inspired me to start humming this song  A song chosen by Max

When the incline came to a minor portion of flatness, Max started to amuse him self with meditations about how climbing a mountain is like being in a relationship. Now I am fond of working metaphorical magic and perhaps this is where Max has gotten the panache to link behaviours that make no sense to his former dog self. I sat for a moment, listened to wind in the trees and slowly sipped some water. Max’s song was now stuck in my head and his mental ruminations were beginning to test my patience. He has only started to gain the skill to control my own thoughts and yes even actions. I have thought to explain some of my actions and even blame the some of my more insane of endeavours on MaxI. Yet as fate would have it, I chose to take the harder path by following other hikers like a complacent sheep.  You know, you put the word mountain in front of an upwelling of land and folks seem to take pride in reaching the summit. In fact, I later met a couple that had promised themselves a bimonthly ascent just to keep the wheels of romance in action. Perhaps Max was onto something.

Several months prior to this hike, my sister had convinced me of a simple hike in Moab. She said it would take two and a half hours. Going through the dense and lush woods of Mt Finlayson, I was too distracted to bother to keep track of time. Max had shown me that for dogs, time was a human idea. He successfully debated that if you wanted to remain in the present you best focus on what your feet were doing verses checking what the hands of your watch were up to. As he saw it, to experience a good hike is, like a good dog walk, it should include time to sniff and smell..well.. what ever there is to sniff. So a short or long time later and now above the tree line and the view came into view.

mt_finlayson_person_walking_along_rocky_trail

Max was waxing all poetic of how the striping of layers made for intimacy and the effort of the hike made it possible to see the trees from the forest. Showing off his cerebral powers over my own motion, he had me stop and make sure folks could rush by. He also wanted to make sure some canines had proper footing. At one point, he even took over my facilities and had me scout out a path for a Mom who was afraid her daughter’s dog would fall. Meanwhile a Dad and his pack were launching up the hill and while the family dog was spry, Dad was showing all the signs of questioning this family outing. In fact, I actually convinced him and his wife..and dog to take the North side trail back down. I can only hope that their dog was smart enough to follow his nose to the correct trail back home.

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In a some what German accent, Max said that “ considering the second route was or is an attempt to move on from the joy of reaching the summit. While some may retrace each step that brought them to this summit, finding an alternate path allows one to travel alone and regroup”. I was not amused by this topic simply because Max’s own ideas are challenging at the best of times. Not having an ego, he has found great delight in mucking about in places that no hound should go. Prior to his existence, I had managed to screw up quite well on my own. As this tale with testify and what ever the case, I did pause and took in not only the view, I also noticed a golf course that was not on the map. This one observation would later be of importance in my adventure, hiking the front nine of Bear Mountain

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I have a head lamp In my pack. I bought one after attempting to get a sunset from a trail heading up from Chuckanut Drive in Washington State. Prior to starting this hike,  I had foolishly thought that I would climb up this mountain and watch the sun rise. I watch several folks, either in groups or on their own come to the summit and leave. I ate a snack and even read a chapter in that mammoth book I put in my pack. I had a watch and now it was reminding me that a simple and short hike was Now as I got to the bottom of this incline, I was wondering if I would need it to get back to my truck before the sun went down. Max was not worried, in fact he manage to have me start humming this song You see, and this is why hiking alone has it’s limitations. In my own single mindeness to find a road drawn on the map, I made the mistake of detouring into a wonderful and new golf course. The irony of it being called Bear mountain did not escape me for I was wondering how much longer I could bear being misplaced and looking for a mysterious road. It was on the six hole that I met up with a foursome who had no clue where a labeled road on the map should be. Yet being wise golfers, they suggested that instead of retracing the past six holes, why not view the next three holes and go to the pro shop.

Coasting

So while Max amused my senses with spotting feeding deer and random bunnies, I looked a the t boxes and marveled at what a monster course was being built next to an homage to a former parliamentarian. Thankfully, my arrival at the clubhouse included a greeting from a kid named Alex and while a wealthy marvel of manhood looked at me and wondered if I had peed my self in front of the water dispenser, he quietly ushered me off the course and back to the trail head. There, just where I had previously photographed was a sign for both the easy and hard routes to go up Mt. Finlayson. Prior to reaching my truck, Max seemed mute to further reflections. I was tired and yet elated that I had not only gone up and down the mountain. I had also done there front nine of a world class golf course.

What I did not share in this tale is the simple fact that while Max did come up with a fun metaphor about love and changes in topography, there is another mountain that one in four people face each day. Some times, it takes every ounce of mental and physical power just to get out of bed and face the simple challenges of the day. While clinical terms like bi polar, ADHD and yes even depression are tossed about in textbooks and lecture halls, the actual process to actually live through and cope with mental challenges is a state of consciousness that flows between both heaven and hell. To actually navigate these mental landscaped each waking and dreaming hour is an amazing act of both spirit and hope. Winston Churchill called it “the Black Dog” — a depression that settled over him and drained the flavor from life. Thankfully, some times it is just the simple action of getting out of your head and going into nature that allows the mind to change it’s own focus. Perhaps it is a test of whether the map is really the territory. Other times the terrain becomes to tiring or severe and it requires a prescription and an acceptance that this day or the next few months may not be just right. Having a “creative mind” some times allows the internal chatter to speak up or shut down. Sometimes there are even those detours to dialogs involving dog spirits and opening your heart to the universe. It has been said that our family pets may be living a better life than our own selves. So if he is real or not, I do thank Max for inspiring me through this day.

comedy and depression

Ruby Wax

Mud Climb up Mt Finalayson

A reason to hike each day

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Getting stoked about “the neutral position”.

The Surphonics

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Prior to ending up at Kalavida Surf Shop , my Jedi mentor and I had been dodging a thunderstorm for the better part of the morning. In fact, a horn was actually heard by some other foursomes on the golf course we were playing on. Oddly enough, our group and the foursome behind us, which included the club pro, seemed to have been deaf to that urgent sound. So instead of worrying about my ancient lightening rod clubs, I started to breath in and out and found a comfortable place on the course. My mentor, whose nickname is “Mad Dog”, kept reminding me about this notion he called “the neutral position”. When I was younger, I did have to discover neutral position while clinging onto the hillsides of San Francisco. My step Dad, who had a knack for automobiles, had managed to squeeze a Fiat Spyder engine into our little FIAT station wagon. The neutral position was an elusive sweat spot found in a four-speed gearbox which had not come along with the engine. So my original quest to find “neutral” was achieved when my father grinned at me as I wiped my sweaty hands on my Levis. I discovered that no matter how short the moment, the actual action of finding and than going through neutral was a path that provided both calm and satisfaction. It was both peaceful and transient. So while the electrons danced a merry rumba in nimbus clouds about, I was about to discover that my own notion of “neutral” was mechanically related to both golf and paddle boarding. Yet what really put a tingle in my toes was that “the neutral position” serendipitously stokes a life journey of pursuing freedom and Flow.

As the story goes, in my life I have weathered a few storms, so having a few dark clouds on the horizon or above me does not faze me. In fact, the slight tingle in the back of my neck when I arched my metal clubs skyward was rather inspiring. Besides readopting a rather non-fatalistic perception of life, I was rediscovering what it was like to have balance in both legs with each successful swing. Now I must confess that I am not a golfer. I do explore the links from time to time if only for the social component. I enjoy the positive advice from my partners like “ah young jedi, take the wise path and avoid hitting the tree”. Yet as the clouds rumbled above, a continued affect of my last six-month metamorphosis was putting a grin upon my face. Even as I was told of “ball eating trees” and “railcars going to Vancouver”, I found a simple a smooth sense of flow beginning to evolve. As my mentor continued to grin and compliment my successful shots, my body continued to feel both the arc of my swing. I rejoiced at the thunderclaps from the clouds above. Throwing caution and my soaring wee white ball to the winds, the universe smiled back and gave me applause.

After the game and heading towards Kalamanka Lake, “Mad Dog” and I had an animated conversation about this whole notion of neutral. Look neutral up on Google and the first thing you discover is a discussion on path to ground and the possible electrocution that I avoided . Go down the rabbit hole and you will find no end of references to the definition of neutral. It can be an emotional impasse or a country avoiding to get embroiled in an activity that may involve weapons. Put it to use on the water and the term can be used to refer to positive and negative buoyancy. Even in chemistry, when the Hydrogen is in equal concentration with hydroxides, there is a neutral point. Finally, where would any biologist be without discussing the homeostatic properties of water and the amazing ways that life maintains a natural and neutral balance of water and electrolytes!

Prior to our game of golf, my Jedi warrior friend and I had already paddled the night before. I was getting ready for my pumping Clarity warm up went a blond surferesque kid came with a pump. “Dude, the owner said you might need this”. It was this simple act of awareness that gained my alliance to the Kalavista Board shop. Not only did I want to thank the owner of the shop, I also wanted to explore a place that has been referred to as the first SUP board shop in BC. My mentor already knew about the owner and simply called him “Kevin”. It seems that Kevin Obrien of Kala is a bit of legend in the board community. As I was later told, if you want a guy who questions normal and has been used as an example of…not being normal, he is your guy.

Why-be-normal

Now I have always questioned “normal” and being another word that begins with “n”, I figured a visit could enhance my understanding of “neutral”. There, next to the railway tracks, I was suddenly reminded of another peaceful pit stop called Healdsburg in Sonoma Valley. As I turned to look at this surf shop, a few neurons went bing and yup..this place could easily fit in with its compatriots on North shore. The place was simple and yet unique. There was simple designed logo and a huge parking lot. We had just stepped into the shop when the clouds unloaded a much-needed load of rain. It was just like sneaking out of squalls on any tropical island. I was busy looking at stock, like bracelets made of parachute cord, when the store became a safe haven and a story room for Kevin to show me his video of river paddling in the interior. As he said, “we wanted to do something before standup paddling became popular and trendy”. So as the surf music blasted, the showers dampened the parking lot and Kevin grinned, I watch a crew of what could easily be Ken Kesey’s merry pranksters, set off to paddle in tutus  and Viking horns. Yes, there were rocks and a distinct lack of concern for them. Yet if you refocused your perceptions, one could easily see a sense of merriment that you only get when you sneak through neutral and kick it into a new gear.

I was lucky enough to grab Kevin’s attention for a few more minutes, like me, he is easily distracted. We talked about gear as he pulled out an amazing fin from a secret spot just above the cash register. Having been referred to as “young Jedi” all through the morning, I held the fin in my hands and felt the force. Did it actually glow in my hands? Could this be the magic fin that would keep both me and Clarity on course? Yet I knew Kevin was inspiring a more subtle direction. The rain soon stopped, the crowd in the store increased and Kevin was now busy finding a new soundtrack to play and talking about the merits of a powerful pump. Yes, I almost thought of buying one! Yet as quickly as the weather changed, the topic of our conversation diverged into talking about surf paddling and boards I should consider. I was grinning ear to ear and simply rocking from foot to foot, feeling this new thing called “neutral”. As the rain began to lighten up, an ecstatic young woman purchased her first board. Like her, I could relate to her massive smile.  I had the same goof ball look when I bought Clarity only a few months ago. True to his own sense of fun and tradition, Kevin told her to grab a free t-shirt. I smiled and soaked in the moment; this was truly a place where SUP Boarding was more than a trend, it was a distinct culture.

Spending time on a paddle board at Kalavida

Kalavida goes for a river trip

After another day of practice, in which I learned to actually effectively chip and pitch, my mentor rewarded me by taking on a social river tubing trip took me down a lovely patch of water some where near Lumbly . All the while, I was feeling my left side of my body awaken from more ten years of pain and imbalance. I enjoyed the happy banter of the company on this slow and mindful float down the river. While my mentor did the wise wizard or lazy lizard thing, apparently snoozing in his chair, he later reminded me that I did not need to be a continual goof. He stoically reminded me that though I was blessed with a good sense of humour, I did not need to use it continually as a defense mechanism. While “Mad Dog” artfully avoided margarita jug pours, he watched me as a mindful Jedi. I was lucky, truly lucky, to be feeling this much alive on such a sun filled day. I wondered if Jedi’s took time off to find neutral. Was there a place where a Jedi could chill besides a noisy extraterrestrial  bar?

For me, what the neutral position has now become is a possible replacement for the notion of balance. Perhaps neutral is that position where the working mind operates with out the  thinking mind taking part. For example, yesterday I was back on Clarity after a five-hour drive when I noticed a positively buoyant paddler from Brazil, wobbling her board from side to side by swaying her hips. I followed suit and in a quirkish solca action, both feet happily let my board arc from side to side. I was stable if only because I was not thinking about being unstable, What was odd was that this motion was just like doing a golf swing! My body, now fit, was starting to recall body memory and the joy of having the sense to go in and out of balance! I raised a heel and then a toe, pushed downward and just as I felt the board lean to the other side, that faithful clutch foot came into gear. I was discovering neutral all over again! So today, I found a hidden trail along False Creek and hide from the sun. There was a happy hop in my footsteps as I remembered Kevin Obrien’s words of wisdom..”leave some room for spontaneity and magic and it will happen”. Perhaps “it” is just that smooth shifting of gears between an all too demanding thinking mind and a smooth flowing working mind. Along that path, you have to remind your self to go through neutral.

 

Good Guys Win

Image result for American Beauty logo grateful Dead

Good Guys Win

I am never sure about the detours in one’s life. We sometimes make decisions based upon criteria that can be as vague as a hunch or chemistry. Me, I am a biologist and the ways of quantum physics are for those more bolder than I. I guess every explorer has had their doubts as they began a journey. My explorer is currently in the shop getting a look over and I am preparing to spend  the next four weeks on a solo journey on wheels and on my paddle board “Clarity”. I am not sure why I have chosen this path to be a seeker. May be it began with worn book by Alan Watts and a post high school grad trip to Yosemite. Yup, Just me  with only a few tapes, a cooler and a hunch that a girl friend would meet up with me in Tahoe. Some times bad choices make great stories. Now, years later, Alan’s words still resonate an element of truth and I am still prone to wanderlust.

Prior to setting off to explore new waters, I decided to go for a Monday night paddle out of Deep Cove. I was feeling a bit of swagger. I was helping new paddlers and ..well feeling pretty full of my self. Yet I knew by the third wave that “Clarity” was up to her mischief. My head was full of dialogs. There, between the ears, was a continual chatter that, at one point in time, I actually requested a moment of silence. I am never too sure about the nature of things. I have even come to accept that perhaps spending an inordinate about of time pondering the how’s and why’s would be better spent humming a song and paddling Clarity. So as I  went airborne and flew over the next wave, my hand holding fast to my paddle, I knew gravity was going to test my swimming skills and there you have it, more evidence of the ripple affect. One small ripple grows into a larger one and soon there is that wave either of water or emotions that you have to navigate through. There is no promise that all is going to be a pleasant experience. However; it may be a snap to the senses that will make you question how you filter reality.

“What we have to discover is that there is no safety, that seeking is painful, and that when we imagine that we have found it, we don’t like it.”
Alan W. Watts, The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety

So I continued my paddle, against both wind and tide. My motivation shifted from being a pleasant paddle to getting into the moment and taking on a struggle. “Was I a good man?” was a question that I had been ruminating but there was no time for that, so I began looking for a song. Among the four tapes that I went onto the road with when I sought understanding in that post graduation journey, was a Grateful Dead tape “American Beauty”. The song “ripple” came to mind. Not the wine but that simple statement of “would you hear my voice come through the music”. Would my action provide me with the calm that I was seeking?

While the Bard had pondered life as a stage and we as just actors, I was not buying into that. Nope, I wanted to write my own script and yes..even decide where I wanted to let my words ring out. Again, there is that combination of both purpose and intent. The purpose of this blog and my journey is to provide a rationale for a life style. The intent, now that is deeper, much like the waters I have traversed. I do not know the true depth of one’s soul. I am under the impression that the notion of the soul has sent mind’s itching for definitions.

“The more we try to live in the world of words, the more we feel isolated and alone, the more all the joy and liveliness of things is exchanged for mere certainty and security. On the other hand, the more we are forced to admit that we actually live in the real world, the more we feel ignorant, uncertain, and insecure about everything.”
Alan W. Watts, The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety

So if my purpose and intents do match, then the songs and lack of fear of the unknown will create a gentle harmony to paddle along to. I will turn off the chatter between the ears and listen for clues on the passing wind.

“Where there is to be creative action, it is quite beside the point to discuss what we should or should not do in order to be right or good. A mind that is single and sincere is not interested in being good, in conducting relations with other people so as to live up to a rule. Nor, on the other hand, is it interested in being free, in acting perversely just to prove its independence. Its interest is not in itself, but in the people and problems of which it is aware; these are “itself.” It acts, not according to the rules, but according to the circumstances of the moment, and the “well” it wishes to others is not security but liberty.”
Alan W. Watts, The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety

So..dear readers..I have heard that the journey is defined not by the destination but by the process. I do intend to see as many dawns and sunsets as possible. I will watch each day after paddling a few strokes or humping it up a mountain. I will honour Alan’s perceptions and follow the cryptic quotes of “the Dude”. Be it gutter balls or strikes..I will navigate the instability through the waves and keep making these continual strokes either of the paddle or the key board. In the next four weeks, I will travel with a few more tapes though. While the destinations are several and they have change both in nature and intent, the underlying theme remains.

“There are, then, two ways of understanding an experience. The first is to compare it with the memories of other experiences, and so to name and define it. This is to interpret it in accordance with the dead and the past. The second is to be aware of it as it is, as when, in the intensity of joy, we forget past and future, let the present be all, and thus do not even stop to think, “I am happy.”
Alan W. Watts, The Wisdom of Insecurity

Ripple

“Ripple”

If my words did glow with the gold of sunshine
And my tunes were played on the harp unstrung,
Would you hear my voice come through the music?
Would you hold it near as it were your own?It’s a hand-me-down, the thoughts are broken,
Perhaps they’re better left unsung.
I don’t know, don’t really care
Let there be songs to fill the air.Ripple in still water,
When there is no pebble tossed,
Nor wind to blow.Reach out your hand if your cup be empty,
If your cup is full may it be again,
Let it be known there is a fountain,
That was not made by the hands of men.There is a road, no simple highway,
Between the dawn and the dark of night,
And if you go no one may follow,
That path is for your steps alone.Ripple in still water,
When there is no pebble tossed,
Nor wind to blow.You, who choose to lead, must follow
But if you fall you fall alone.
If you should stand then who’s to guide you?
If I knew the way I would take you home.

La dee da da da,
La da da da da,
Da da da, da da, da da da da da
La da da da,
La da da, da da,
La da da da,
La da, da da.

Things go better with Bob

Stand up paddle boarding water polo

wipe out

Tell him to be a fool every so often
and to have no shame over having been a fool
yet learning something out of every folly
hoping to repeat none of the cheap follies
thus arriving at intimate understanding
of a world numbering many fools.

Carl Sandburg

Having taken a few trips around the sun, you sometimes get to notice some patterns about life and people. For example, I have never had a bad time when I have been with some one named “Bob”. In fact, I can honestly say that I have been had the good fortune to have been mentored by two amazing men, Robert “Bob” Teideman of Newport antique twelve’s fame and the late   Dr. Robert “Bob” Schwartzand the racing yacht “Diane” crew. In fact it was just the other day that another partner in crime who to this day has the nickname “Doctor” due to his altruistic and heroic efforts, invited me for a retreat up the coast in Powell River. May be it is the buoyancy factor, you can count on a “Bob” to float your through the rough stuff. “Bobs” ride the waves and shuck and juke with the punches. So after spending three hours getting introduced to the game of stand up water polo, I wasn’t surprised to discover that there was a Bob behind this fantastic and lunatic event.

Now that I paddle every Monday at Deep Cove, I have come to realize how much is actually going on. Besides, the rental program of SUP’s and Kayak’s there is a flow of amazing athletes participating in other paddling events coming to the cove to share both their enthusiasm and wisdom. As I was leaving the Cove on Monday, one of the staff mentioned the Wednesday evening sup water polo. I had never heard of such a thing and I have only been on a board since April but I figured in a moment of both ignorance and confidence….”what the heck, what do I have to lose?”. So I arrived at the Cove early and noticed among the many floating things in the harbor thee was this this odd floating structure near to the shore. The bay was a hive of activity. There were kayakers, sailboards, two person paddle boards and I wondered if I was in the middle of a Doctor Suess poem..”there were paddlers with fins and paddlers with grins, there were even worldly wise four footed paddlers with wiskers on their chins”.

DCSuppolofar        DCSuppoloclose

Starboard Stand Up Water Polo

 

The original board and ball polo 1941!

As I sat upon a bench and proceeded to watch a pack of young pups proceeded to spin and shoot within the floating pontoons, I distinctly could not help but notice a high level of skill. It was like watching a pack of grommets play in the waves in Monterey. I began to seriously doubt my choice to play. The game itself involves two teams of three players standing upon larger more buoyant paddle boards. These board are coloured red or blue so that when you are in the water half drowning, you can identify which board is yours. The paddle is a combination of a spoon surface with an open hole. This means you can paddle hard and go no h and at the same time attempt to scoop a ball up into your stick without falling overboard. You are allowed to make stick to stick contact and ram inflatable rubber paddle board into the other team players boat causing a player to be out of the game in the water and hopefully not you. The game does involve a lot of falling into the water, swimming and climbing onto your board and standing up again. All this considered and with no experience I decided to my name on a list and was told that not a lot of folks were coming. So I relaxed, became a “free agent”, and patiently waited fully aware that I did have a good excuse. “How did you trip to go play polo go?”..”Oh I was a free agent and there were not enough players. I found an empty space on the seawall, smiled and felt reprieved. Oh well, I can just watch the kids, inflate Clarity and go of for a nice solo paddle. As the first game began, I was just part of the growing crowd watching first game in the middle of the bay.

Unlike the film clips on-line, there was a lot of speed and feisty play. There were no end of folks falling into the water and popping up onto their boards as if there were sharks in the water. This game was fast. I sipped a beverage and grinned and felt the quiet satisfaction of being just another on looker. That is when I heard my name being shouted. The first time I ignored it. From the shore, a young man was calling me out. Everyone was looking at each other. I actually thought of just ignoring his shouting when some one said..”we cannot find him”. I took in the scene wondering if my invisible powers would work. There was more head turning and a crew of fit folk patiently waited on a massive inflatable sup. Ignorance kicked in and I decided to get my wet suit vest and saddle up. I had made this mistake once before in a gymkanna where I nearly speared my horse racing around a pylon. Yup I decided to giddy up and joined my team “the free agents”.

As I wobbled and fell into the water prior to the first game, I noticed a familiar face staring back at me from the other team. It was my first instructor that took me out on my first ride on a soggy April day. There he was, big grin and massive thighs giving me a shacka salute. Yo bra and the game began. I remember being either airborne or in the water. There was a lot of cheering and laughter. Why I felt an odd sense of confidence I did not know but this was really fun. The game went on for eight to ten minutes. Neither I nor the many others had the time to even contemplate the time. It was like crash test dumbies all set loose to see who could stay afloat and move the ball. Two players on the other team were spinning their boards like they were bailing out of riding waves. I was learning to bend down more and attempting to move my feet. Having coached a few field sports, I looked for open space and attempted to pass the ball prior to falling overboard. I was on a learning curve with bald tires and a slippery soggy surface.

The free agents put up a great fight, we even the lead for some of our games and even attempted to give high fives without falling overboard. As the tide rose, a whole group of players and staff moved the pontoons closer to the shore so that more folks could watch. As the sun was sneaking it’s way to the horizon, I began to notice that many of the players were visiting paddlers and ex surfers. This would explain why and how they could jump in the air and spin to face the other direction. There were both guys and girls laughing it up with each capsize and goal. On the sideline we began to form a cheering section and did shark bit salutes as both young and more crafty older players went head to head. The boys started shouting out for Bob as I watched wiser wizard cherry picking close to the net. While brawn could get to the ball faster, the worldly-wise experience brain came up with neat tricks to score and sink other team players.

Being the last of the free agents to remain, I was pick up by one team and we managed, with the help of David’s crazy board and football skills to form a three-step ball movement to a young whippet who won the game. Then I got picked up by another team and as the video cameras rolled, I was now in the semi final game.

Here is was.. the Cinderella story, a misfit from Vancouver, now playing goal against the grommets who for the last I had admired that afternoon. Could it be a Disney film..the outlandish saves, the long distance shot, the roar of the crowd? Within the first opening five minutes and from behind me, a board made contact with mine as I saw the ball being relayed towards me. When I resurfaced from under the water, ball was in reach of their forward player who casually flipped the ball into the air and then netted the ball with his stick. I laughed, looked for my paddle board and beaked at the shooter…”really, you had to do that!”.  The grommets were out for blood and soon I was viewing the finals from the sidelines, I got to witness the grommets take on the paddling rock stars from South Africa and mighty Australian and “Bob”. This is the game the Grommets had been waiting for. “We want to play Bob”, they had been chanting from the sidelines. The afternoon practice was showing great skill for the pups but a cunning South African continued to show amazing goal keeping skills. Bob snuck in under the radar and cherry picked an equalizing goal. The grommets complained about score keeping as I raised my arms to show two peace signs but the afternoons practice paid off with a final score of 3-2.

Introduce a sport to a bunch of paddlers and a positive and enthusiastic community and you get that magical moment when everything falls into place including players into the water. For me, when words get replaced with sincere and positive actions then there is evidence of truth. What I appreciated the most was how my humble skill sets and lunges into the water were met with cheers! What I enjoy best about any sport is how many people can become part of one thing. There is a joy in being part of a positive and enthusiastic community. As I helped pull up anchors and piloted “the starcraft” multiuser paddle board, I noticed a couple and their hound taking in the fading sunset. With everyone pitching in, boards and pontoons were soon deflated and were being packed. It was during this time, that I met the wizard “Bob” who had been potting in goals in the final game. True to form, I must confess you cannot go wrong when you get involved in some fun with a guy named “Bob”

For more fact about Bob…and Deep Cove events please use the following links or go to my page “what is sup in Vancouver”. Now there is an “attaboy endeavours” facebook too! I am in training now and preparing for a rematch! It appears that Deep Cove Days may be the next set of games!

Promise to keep you posted

Just me and the blue Heron

Bob away my blues

When I awoke this morning I realized I had successfully navigated another trip around the sun. Given that two close friends had just gotten an odd wake up call from mother nature as to how grand but frail our voyage can be, I decided to take my sister’s advice by remaining in the moment. Step by step and mindfully, I loaded up my now clean truck with a few bottles of water, some extra shorts  and made sure “my Red Paddle paddle board and skinny body set off to find new place to visit”. Vancouver bay was a gong show both of traffic and wind so I sought out the solitude of the Deas Slough area to find a new detour down stream and “keep paddling”.

I have learned that you do not push the river but learn to adapt to it. I guess this can be true for sneaking into estuaries and watery by ways that branch off the Fraser River. In my last visits to the slough, I have enjoyed the quiet of early morning paddles and the flight of eagles above me. I have learned when the gate to the park opens (7 am) and I have found times to avoid jet skis, power boats, and water skiing. Today I arrived around eleven and the rowers were just coming in from their morning work out. I found shade under a great massive tree and did my pre=paddle workout of pumping up Clarity. Even now, I find it amusing and ironic that in order to find clarity’s true shape, it involves twenty odd minutes of pumping her up.

Besides a few sun bathers and some kids jumping off the dock, my first few kilometers of paddling was rolling back time to calm hours voyaging through northern Ontario. As one stroke fell into another, I started to replace lyrics of Marshall Tucker Band song “Bob, away my blue”.

“I am going down to the river,

I got a fancy carbon fiber paddle in my hand

I got my ice cold water in an old MEC plastic can

I going to paddle be shady tree on the river bank where it is cool

I am gonna open up my eyes, dream and let Clarity bob away my blues”.

The impending noon day breeze was now in my face. I grinned back and realized it was just a tease. The slough has become my testing ground for improving my paddling. Just like the video said…I am now letting my core and hips do most of the work. Thankfully, many hours at sea listening to the same tape in an ancient water proof walkman has imprinted a long list of Jimmy Buffet tunes. I hummed a few more chords that could match my stroke but I was distracted by anchored ski boat. I noticed a couple that may or may not been coupling and “being charitable and cautious” I decided that couple on board some private space even if they were anchored fifty yards from the freeway over pass. Goes to show ya, you can’t put logic into the equation when the horizontal cha cha is going on.

Honey do

I paddled by a mess of yachts docked to shore and grinned about my own solitary situation. Yup that one would do, but they need to change the hull colour. Hell, I am traveling solo and I was feeling quite happy with that. A few bars of “Honey do” by Jimmy and I was launching into the Fraser river in search of a quiet little creek while impersonating “a bunch of blues torpedos”. Mid channel, a police boat pulled a power boater over as I ducked into a calm and flat backwater creek between Gunn and Kirkland island. I took note of the tide and wind and realized that I was on a falling tide and going home was going to be a treat. Half way up this creek, two solitary occupants of a perhaps unknown cabin got into their boat and motored away. While coupling clues may have been tossed at me,  I went up this creek with the intent of exploring what natural surprises I could find on my own.

My friend Harry has told me that I am now on a quest. He is a bit of a wizard. He is someone that Deepak Chopra would enjoy. When I told him that the past was dead, he quietly replied, “it can’t be. Where would time machines go?”. Imagine, six kilometers down stream from your truck and now you are the only person floating along a muddy estuary creek. Inspired by some Monday night antics, I did a downward dog pose and started to attempt the snake pose when my pretzel making endeavours were interupted by a  visitor from space (actually the blue space above my head). In this case, she was a blue heron and she landed and started to pace the shoreline like a Mom at a checkout stand, tapping her toes and all in a hurry to make dinner for her brood back home. I knew that she was a female, if only because she lacked the false feathery grandeur that some male feathery folk have. She was looking for food and I detoured across the creek, to sit and take in the solitude that was cool as calming breeze.

Up ahead, I noticed a derelict rig from a fishing boat. Neither the heron nor I read anything into this. We were just by the river, watching it flow and noticing how shallow things were becoming. As she paced the shoreline, (I swear I have never seen a bird pace along a shore lick this gal) I was now being reminded about the true nature of estuary creeks. Things go up and down with the tide and Mother Nature was giving me gentle nudge to get back to where I came from. I turned around and gave a nod to my poetic crane. How many haikus have been written about Cranes?

Image result for pictures of blue herons

Heron in Haiku (Pacific Northwest(

She was not impressed by my sentiment. After a few more steps along the muddy shore, she took flight and sounded out a prehistoric “caw”.

A quick way to cross a river is not to paddle into it, but use the current to ferry your self across going side ways. Being a bit of a water rat, I used my boating skills to get closer to the Deas Slough. A tug boat went by with two loads of pulp and barely made a wake. However; the once quiet slough was now filled with an assortment of folks finding amusement upon the water. I wondered if I had a big yacht or even a ski boat, could I attract a lovely bikini clad lady as the one I passed. Like the heron, she was not ruffled nor did she bother with my presence on ol Clarity. We were just a distraction for her intentions to make her skin brown. By the time, I made it to the rowing dock, a whole flock of folks had arrived. I attempted to surf off a passing ski boat. For one last moment of peace, I paused to watch an eagle soaring above my head. Feathery friends or not, Nature was quietly reminding me of what Depak has said about love and nature…Thanks to my sis and a private pal..I was lucky enough to get the message.

The mind loves whatever repeats a pleasurable experience from the past. “I love this” basically means “I love repeating what felt so good before”.”
Deepak Chopra, The Way of the Wizard: Twenty Spiritual Lessons for Creating the Life You Want

“Nature reflects the moods of the wizard.”
Deepak Chopra, The Way of the Wizard: Twenty Spiritual Lessons for Creating the Life You Want

The basis of everything in the wizards’ world rests upon the insight “All this is myself.” Therefore, in accepting the world as it is, the wizard views everything in the light of self-acceptance, which is the light of love.”
Deepak Chopra, The Way of the Wizard: Twenty Spiritual Lessons for Creating the Life You Want

“Now take all these qualities together: order, balance, evolution and intelligence. What you have is a description of love. It’s not the popular ideal, it is the wizard’s love – the force that upholds life and nurtures it.”
Deepak Chopra, The Way of the Wizard: Twenty Spiritual Lessons for Creating the Life You Want

and that is when I first saw the bear…

Knees bent and back straight

I must confess..that it was not too long ago..that I was humping towards the the ninth hole and the fairways were dried up and acting like like concrete slabs at the world worse parking lot. I was just skating above par but the water had evaporated out of my bandana and I was busy day dreaming about the cold pitcher beer after the eighteen hole. I thought..”wouldn’t be nice just to step off the fairway and jump into the water..”.

I pared the 17th whole and feeling pretty full of my own inherent and genetic skill to strike the wee white ball, I launched an airborne assault on the 18th hole..a par three with a five wood. After many hours of frying my body in some sideways effect of global warming, I discovered that I was a little hesitant to step out into the noon day sun….even if I was somewhat a mad dog and English. Later, well at least two days, I some how forgot this note to my self when I decided to sit by the pool just for an hour or two prior to going to Deep Cove to paddle.

Now my truck, “Ataboy”, has a tape deck and it was my good fortune to discover a misplaced tape underneath the passenger seat. So rolling over through rush hour traffic,  I was singing along with Jimmy Buffet, rolling my “r’s and g’s” to  a well played tune with lyrics that go a little bit like this, ”I ain’t a drinking man …but temptation took the best of me..and so when the bear ambled up to me..I did not flip or fly..it hung em up..cuz..I was god’s own drunk…and a fearless man..”. After a less than peppy twenty minutes of manhandling  a pump and without to much trepidation, ol Clarity and I launched into another paddle out of Deep Cove.

Yes..the hangover was gone. I had stayed out of the sun and watched a few videos

golden rules of paddling

waves

paddle stroke

basic paddling

Though it was hot outside, I had been productive in my own abode. I had done a few rounds of laundry, cleaned house and even made the commode presentable. I had washed all my gear and I even had found a MEI jug so that now I had a source of water. Yes..I was a fearless man..and that is when I got hooked into the first set of waves. Well, to be honest, lets just say close sets of water tempting to lurch me ass over teacup. I rode out the first few sets. The next set, I grabbed the board on all fours and watched a few other paddlers follow my lead. By the turn around point, I was enthusiastically told..”heh..it will be easier..the tide is with us”. My thighs were much like the rest of the crew. Some of the girls had done a four hour workshop on Vancouver Bay the day before and they were tired..and that ol orb in the sky was just teasing us as to it’s intensity.

So returning home to the cove, I launched out into the waves and pretended I was a new buck kahuna in Hanalei Bay. “Cowabunga..mihalo bra!” Ya I know da kine…but the disaster voice was stomping up a fuss in my frontal lobe.  Down a wave and…”bend knees, straight back”. Another few strokes..faster this time…”bend knees, straight back”…paddle ..faster. Soon I had separated from the group..some one yelled “heh what are you doing out there..we do not smell that bad..”. I was trying to figure out how this tide could be messing up my sense of balance or was I not seeing eye to eye with my buddy..the bear.

Turning into the cove, I dodged the break water and started to look for some calm water. There was now only one voice muttering.. “bent knees and straight back”. Light headed and a bit sunburned, I swore I was seeing Sam Elliot in the Big lebowski giving his rundown on the whole show..Yes..the Dude abides but his thighs are on fire and light up like Vegas on the Forth of July. I had just a few seconds to wonder if my back was frozen, fried like an egg over easy or had I just given up on pondering spasming lower back muscles.

Mid harbour return and a returning rowing dingy comes along my port side. The driver  has a broken throttle cable, so I tease my self with mind bending illusions and paddle out of it’s wake. Who really needs gas fumes up your nose? I dig in and end up going up over the dingy’s wake and whoops..down a wave. Ok..it was not big daddy material but Clarity moved along like a goose releasing a crap load of barley. Surfing..no..I was just trying to keep stable and saying my mantra..”knees bent, straight back”.

Later, as the sun was setting and two planets aligned to put on the pre evening show prior to moon coming up on a cool clear evening, I sat on the tailgate of my truck and stared at the ground. My skin, now getting brown, had a slight hue of red. I should have stayed out of the sun but heh….what was I to do? I was getting caught up in reading about MRI’s and the size of a canines olfactory receptors. I had just patted a Rodesian ridge back and smiled at a passing family who gave me this odd worried stare, Perhaps they were wondering what beast I had tangled with. I smiled and said..”some days you eat the bear and some days the bear eats you”.

Yup..pert near wore me out. Shucks Sam..I can hear you..yarning about westward the wagons and the dusty trails and I am just happy to have made it ashore and packed up “Clarity”.

Yet the bug is under the skin..which is now tanning nicely… and the lure for more adventures does call. Tomorrow at six am, I am off to do a Canada Day dawn paddle..no sun there. Then I am going to see what a moon paddle is like the next day. Paddlefest is on my birthday, though I am not sure I can string along a deal out of that one.

So when those waves hit..which they will..keep your golden rules in mind and act upon them….bent knees and back straight…To hell with the pain..there is sore nor more for that. While a calm paddle on the slough may do to build up your stamina, some times it is up to you to see what you can bear. Nope, your are not living unless you test your self.

Paddling on Calm Waters

Paddling on Calm Waters

Just south of Vancouver, the Deas Slough travels under highway ninety nine. Just as your eyes adjust to being in a tunnel, you resurface and for just a moment, you notice two marinas and a patch of flat calm water. The water’s surface reflects the passing cumulus clouds. You won’t hear the scream of an eagle. You will not see the wake of a swimming otter. That is why I now paddle here. It is a chance for me to follow a wobbling path into my own beliefs and to discover what may or may not be there.

When you think about it, standing up in a floating object is something we are taught not to do. “Don’t stand up in a canoe!” is what you were actually taught at camp. I even shared this nugget of wisdom with my own students when I was a canoe instructor. Put you body in a position of imbalance and you have to face the consequences. In fact, standing up when other are sitting down is also not condoned. Think of a restless student, glued to their seat, wishing only to get up and move around. When you think about it, there is something boldly contrary about defying a belief about something as unquestionable as gravity. You need a sense of trust to believe in your own self. So I mutter to my self “It is ok. The worst thing that is going to happen is that I will get wet”.  I also have to be honest with my own “self”. Sure, I may look stupid or even get some muck up my nose or in my ears but what is really driving the board, my trusting “self” or my own fears?

When I first arrived at the slough, all the rowers were already on the water. I was the only person on the shore and I had never taken “Clarity” out onto such calm water. Since early this spring, every voyage on any paddle has been a test of my sense of balance to responds to the action of the water beneath my board. At first, I made the mistake of tensing up my whole sense of awareness. I learned to adapt to the ripples by bending my knees and feeling where the weight was in my feet. The larger the wave, the lower to the board I got. I even dropped to the board on all fours to ride out a powerboat wake. After many times on the water, I actually lost control, fell into the water and almost drifted into a powerboat at the dock. Fear was running the show and my body was responding. I put my self into a situation where I was reacting to a tiger who was not even near me. My beliefs about that tiger was the tension that my body was feeling.

Gliding onto the calm slough surface, there is still the unmistakeable tension in my legs. I still judge how fast or slow it takes me to stand up. I still hesitate as I stand up and put the paddle into the water. Thankfully, I no longer spend that much time indulging in listening to my inner fearful voice . Now I sense pure and  simple sensory neuron messages to the ol cerebellum. Just stand up! To heck with the upper noggin getting into the game, it is all about balance. One more stroke and the grin begins to grow. I am feeling courage, not in my own inner monolog but with each muscle contraction in my arms. I bend over and attempt to pull harder. Then I have to be honest with my self. There is going to be lower back pain but I can overcome this. A quiet calming voice relays a private note to self , “there is no need to hurt your self”.

The calm surface of the water begins to create an integrated sensation of floating and movement between my body and the glassy surface of the water. Still the “tiger” may be lurking. So I still scan the surface for possible ripples. Is there a boat coming out of that marina? Is that jet ski going to slow down? The doubtful fearful voice just will not go away. There is still the tension in my twitching calf muscles and my feet feel like they are going numb. Instead of pretending that I am calm as the surrounding water, I begin to honestly accept the fact that my body is still feeling a contrary sensation.

A hawk hovers over a nearby fence. It too is defying gravity. Instead of soaring, it is frozen in space looking for it’s breakfast. For the first twenty or more strokes the slough is completely empty of any vessel. There is the distant roar of the highway over pass that is soon hushed by the trees thick with new leaves on the shore. There is a muted silences accept for the simple act of putting the paddle into the water.

Then it begins and some how my thoughts begin to wander. What is that branch over there? Why is there foam on the water? How deep is this murky brown solution? Why did I forget to bring my watch? One bad paddle entry and the hips do a yip and rule one kicks into play. Keep your paddle in the water. Sense the surface of the water with your feet. Feel the connection between you, the board and the water. This is when the actual act of honesty kicks in. You cannot lie to your self when you are in a state of imbalance or under the illusion of being balanced. It is no big stretch to understand why you are wearing a grin. You are opening up to your own renewing nature. You are taking ownership for your own paddling experience. There is no judge on the shore giving out points. There no one wondering who the grey haired dude is paddling on this quiet morning. It is time for the ol self to take a back seat and just listen to the slow ripple of a wake that follows the board.

So what do I learn while paddling. That is sometimes takes a type of courage to be honest with your own self. Even in the calm waters, you can fool your self into beliefs and fears that just are not there. Letting go of those beliefs, like the lack of wind on the waters surface, creates a calm.

So later this evening,  I read “honesty is a path that leads to happiness. Becoming honest is an act of self renewal”. I get that from paddling on the slough, my arms ache and the calves cramp up but I smile as I watch an elderly skipper varnish his Christa Craft. No wake here, just dealing with the responsibilities of owning a vessel.

Later, I am lucky enough to share a walk on car free Main Street in of Vancouver. I enjoy the sensation of sensing the wind as it causes nearby flags to flutter. I see the diversity of the passers by. I recall another quote from Living Deliberately, “ The result of living honestly is feeling and sharing-compassion and empathy! There is a joy in willingly integrating with the consciousness of others”. I do know that I fail in some of these attempts. Instead of pointless judgements, I say to my self “you are both innocent and responsible for your own actions”. Unlike being on “Clarity”, my consequence is not a splash into the water. I look into nearby eyes and wonder what they are seeing and thinking. Honestly, I try to find a way to glide over the fears of unknown consequences.

So each day, I attempt to take this nebulous understanding of peace back from the water I have traveled upon. I am sore and happily tired. Yes, my words sometimes blurt out of my mouth like a misplaced paddle stroke. I look into another person’s eyes and I lurch and feel a possible imbalance.  With the new technology, there is always a misunderstood text or an email that may be unanswered. I turn off the thoughts of fear and let the feeling of calm flow through. A friend’s quote rings true, “do not push the river”. I ride the sensation of waves of feelings and do not indulge in giving them a label. I know that I can muster up the responsibility and the courage. I can honestly say.” yup I did that because I was honestly afraid”. Even in the calmest of waters or oddest of situations, you have to have the courage to be honest enough with your own self and trust that self.

Keep the paddle in the water and keep moving even if the surface is glassy and flat. Beneath the surface are those hidden beliefs that you need to challenge and question. There is nothing to fear in these murky waters. We can let go of those fears and beliefs that may be shaping the actual floating experience above them. “Is there some dark corner in the human mind into which none dare to look? Some core assumption that none dare to utter?..” perhaps it is the actual attempt to seek out incontrovertible truths”…Yes..Jack…I can handle the truth! Hurrah!

Quotes from Living Deliberately by Harry Palmer