Why Am I Stand Up Paddle Boarding the Wild Atlantic Way?
Some of my fondest memories from my childhood are of my father reading bedtime stories to me and my brother. These weren’t just any old stories though. These were adventure stories! Our favorites were His Dark materials by Philip Pulman, The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, though the full list was much more extensive. Needless to say, these stories instilled in me a love of adventure, travel, and magic.
As I grew up, I remember being disappointed that I would never get to walk through portals into other universes like Lyra, or save the world like Frodo, or simply go to wizard school. I was so sad when I never received my invitation to attend Hogwarts when I turned 11. I’m sure I wasn’t the only disappointed 11 year old.
But these books sent me on a journey to discover the world at hand, the one I actually lived in. My love for adventure hasn’t diminished but I have started to cherish what is really here and not just bemoan the lack of fantasy. I have come to the complete understanding that just because witches and dragons don’t exist in this world, doesn’t make it any less magical.
I started reading articles about people kayaking the length of the Amazon River, or hiking across the Himalayas, or any other example of one human’s feat of endurance, courage and strength. I wanted to be like them. I wanted to go on an adventure and I wanted it to mean something. There had to be a strong reason, or my lazy streak would kick in, and I would never accomplish what I had set out to accomplish.
Well, my opportunity arose when I moved to Ireland, discovered stand up paddle boarding and began to experience the raw, untamed coastline that no one had yet paddled.
It also was around this time that I started to take real note of the environmental crisis at hand. I saw the garbage in the seas first hand. I watched people burn coal in their fires. I’m ashamed to admit I did as well. It’s hard to break out of the mold and do something different, especially when it costs more and is less convenient. It is really hard to act on these issues with the world set up the way it currently is.
Every little small change adds up. From using reusable water bottles and coffee cups, all the way up to living a waste free lifestyle, eating only raw vegan food. We all have different ways to contribute to the overall goal of zero waste and zero carbon emissions, and it all adds up for the better. Eventually the scales will shift and humans will start living symbiotically with the planet once more.
However well intentioned, these small actions aren’t enough. We are running out of time and we need to start demanding larger actions from the very top. We must overhaul how we live. I fully believe this is possible and possible without negatively impacting our quality of life.
And then last year happened. I saw the storms, followed immediately by drought. It was so unlike the Ireland I had heard about and so unlike anything I had experienced there before in those few short years. The stories pouring in from all corners of the globe of weather going crazy and storms stronger than ever before. It was so clear to me. Climate change is here, it is no longer some abstract intellectual concept. The boogy man is out from under the bed and just warming up his act.
At the same time, I look out the window and see such awesome beauty. From the flat plains of Kansas, to the sunshine and waves of California, the untamed landscape of Ireland and to the towering canyons of the American Southwest. There is no shortage of beauty but it won’t be around for ever if we don’t take care.
My purpose was clear. My statement was made. It became clear to me that this was my trek to Mt Doom. I hope it goes better for me than it did for Frodo. This world is worth fighting for! This planet is worth saving!
It’s egotistical and foolish to think the planet won’t be here after we have destroyed ourselves. It will slowly rebuilding into something equally as beautiful. But we won’t be here to see it and we will have taken everything innocent out with us. That would be such a shame.
I do not know exactly what I will accomplish on this journey. I only know what I hope to accomplish. When people see my story and my journey and the beauty that is all around, I hope people will stop and think. Really look at their everyday lives and decide if their creature comforts in the immediate moment are worth the cost of the planet as our home. I hope to inspire, as many people as possible, to take real meaningful action to address this global crisis. I hope to create a movement that will help tip the scales in favor of the ecosystem and the beauty of nature.
I feel so fortunate to be here, to see and experience the world, to taste the flavors and hear the music. I’d love to keep exploring it, I have a lot of ground left to cover. And I’d love for that ground to still be there for my children and grandchildren. I’d love to see how humanity can live harmoniously with our world instead of against it. We don’t have to tame nature and bend it to our will, we just have to get comfortable with the wildness!
Join me! Help me raise awareness, there are still so many people in this world that either don’t realize or don’t care about what is happening. So share the word, spread the news, and let’s go inspire people to make positive change a reality!