Four degrees from Lebanon

My friend Kelly called me yesterday, just after she talked to her husband Lonnie Dupre. He and his Peary Centennial Expedition made it to the North Pole!

Lonnie made the 2nd phone call, after one of his fellow explorers— Max, had finished talking to the president of Lebanon. Lonnie called Kelly and Kelly called me, so I figure, it was about as well connected as I get here in the middle of the woods. 2 degrees from the North Pole, 4 degrees from the President of Lebanon.

Once I asked Lonnie–“What do you think about, when you are 40 days into an expedition?” It must get a little tedius, day after day, was it actually fun? It also occurred to me that he was pretty much on an ultra-extended extreme version of a BWCA camping trip.
Lonnie was thoughtful about his answer, he talked about paddling around Greenland…he said, basically, he’d look ahead to the next point, and wonder what the wind would be like there, or what the weather will be like tomorrow, or what the cliff rocks were. The rhythm of the current minutes–and that’s about it.

I’ve been thinking about that.

About the allure of an expedition (or a canoe trip).
Well, I wouldn’t minimize the challenge and adventure. Definitely people appear to crave natural beauty, and usually find some sort of peace in that. Daniel would remind me it’s all about the fishing.

Truthfully though, canoe trips are a lot of work. After Lonnie’s response, I wondered if a hook doesn’t have to do with being forced to live in the current moment. Mindfulness is a groovy buzz word these days. The way I understand it, mindfulness is paying attention to what is happening at a specific moment, not dwelling on past events, or worrying about the future, or getting lost in thoughts about what is going on. Apparently, people are claiming there is evidence that practicing mindfulness increases the quality of life, and improves your physical and mental health. It also helps people manage stress.
Really, a canoe trip seems to force us to live in each moment as if it really matters. Are paddling, or fishing, or portaging really some sort of meditation practice?

I was listening to a little snippet on the radio the other day, and the guy was talking about “not running toward our deaths, but opening to our lives.” Maybe a canoe trip is a great facilitator of that—giving us a little dose to take home to remind us of the importance of the present moment. Maybe that accounts for the carefree part of a canoe trip. And the laughter.

Henry David Thereau, in Walden said “only that day dawns to which we are awake.” Aha! A camping expedition—or a trek to the North Pole—- could be perfect ways to wake up to life’s moments.