However did you find yourself here? Well, welcome.
Decades ago I was on a twenty-two day canoe trip in northern Ontario with five other guys. We’d been out about a week or so. We were working hard. The territory wasn’t all that well traveled, which was why we were there. We were trying to make our own way. The portages were often hard to find and hard to follow. Their ending was always a good thing.
On one portage, I was carrying a food pack, which weighed about 80 pounds. It made me take short steps, walk hunched over and be cautious. I was cautious by nature. Or training. I carefully watched where I walked. The result was that I’d gotten behind. No worry, with five ahead of me the trail was obvious. Slow and steady, I’d get there.
We’d learned that if we tripped while carrying a heavy pack, we should tuck our arms in to our side and throw the pack around so we’d land on it and not it on us. Sure enough, my care slipped, and I tripped. I landed sort of on my side and sort of on the pack. It hurt although I was unhurt. And a bit mad. I struggled to get out of the straps, then to lift the pack up onto a boulder so I could slip it back on. The pack was too heavy for me to flip it up by myself.
It wasn’t much later that I first smelled pickles. Pickles? How could that be? Maybe there was group ahead of us and they’d dropped their pickles. But the path didn’t show any signs of recent travel, other than us. I walked back and forth, looking down, ignoring as best I could the weight of the pack. If I found one pickle I would eat it. If I found three, I would split them up among the group. If I found two… I wasn’t sure. Hunger was ever present and pickles sounded good. I knew then that I could be selfish over a pickle.
I went on. Pickleless. Maybe pickles grew wild in the woods? I started to check out all branches and vines along the path. Every so often, I caught the scent. Suddenly, I was at the end of the portage. Disappointed. “Did you guys see any pickles on the trail?” They hadn’t.
As I turned around, one of them grabbed the back of the pack to help me take it off and lower it into the waiting canoe. He groaned and held his hand out. It was wet.
“Dill sauce,” he said. I’d forgotten that we’d brought a bottle of dill sauce to use with any fish we caught, which so far we had not. The cap had come loose and the dill sauce leaked throughout the pack.
I think the word leak is a fitting one to describe this web site, where I have placed some of my writing and pictures of my sculpture and boat interests. There are some items that I worked harder at, some where I have not worked as hard at all. I can tell the difference. Perhaps you will as well.
A couple other things I consider at times:
An expressive act, wrote Parker Palmer, is one taken not to achieve a goal outside oneself but to express a conviction, a lending, a truth within. An expressive act is one taken because if not taken would be denying one’s own insight, gifts, or nature. By taking an expressive act, an act not obsessed with outcomes, one comes closer to making the contribution that is one is to make in the scheme of things.
“I could draw anything, but drawing doesn’t make you an artist, art is in your head. It’s how you think, and what you think. Artists work to complete themselves. The art completes whatever is missing, whatever is not there.” Beverly Pepper
“Our writing reveals ourselves.” Jane Resh Thomas
“Simply put, the things that matter to you, the stories you have to tell, exist to be shared.” Ted Orland
“The origin of a story is always an absence.” Jonathan Safran Foer
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” Annie Dillard
Again, welcome. Look around. Watch your step. Don’t get wet.
Bruce Sterling Casselton