Saturday, June 22, 2013

Choices: Horizontal vs Vertical

My nephew, aka "salade maker extraordinaire" was visiting here the other day talking about his recent kayaking trips down several rivers in the area.

He sat on a stool at our kitchen island sharing the thrill of his adventures and I found myself drifting back to memories from my own youth.

All of a sudden I was 17 again working as a canoe tripper guiding kids down fast flowing rivers.
Those were the days where a life jacket was used to keep your knees from getting overly sore and bruised as you paddled kneeling in your canoe for a major part of a day.
We covered our exposed skin in Bain de Soleil and tied our hair back to get full exposure to the sun.

And then my mind slips back to him... he is properly equiped with his helmet and wearing a life jacket. He talks about the skill of his friends and his own learning curve in the sport.
He has posted this video on his Facebook page which we all watched over and over....
It shows him heading over this steep waterfall cliff in his kayak and down a series of rapids.

It is clear when you listen to him that these moments are experiences that have shaped him as a person and continue to do so.
And again, although his experience is different from mine I saw glimpses of my own adventures from that stage of my life.

Certainly I won't define this as a "sport"  ..... my days of joining all the other "crazies" out there as we put together make-shift boats and set ourselves down the swollen Beaver River to take part in the annual Beaver River Rat Race.
But I can still remember the exhilaration that we felt that day.

We were always up for an adventure, something to get us pumped and out the door. The idea was presented and we ran with it.
I don't know that we stopped to reflect on it for that long.
Maybe we did.

These days we seem to mull over ideas so long that ....well, by the time we make a is over, too late, missed opportunity.
You see, my nephew just arrived from a month in Budapest, Greece and Spain.
Well, an opportunity came up and he took it. Something about a world congress on new directions in responsible business.
And of course before that he has been studying at a highly specialized school for adventure-guiding out in beautiful British Columbia. During his 2 years there he regularly ventured up into the back mountains for some back country skiing.

Then he explained to me that all these opportunities have allowed him to grow outwards.... in a horizontal fashion.

Apparently his friends suggested that he stay and take just one more trip down the river with them.

But he has plans to get home and start an adventure business. He feels a need to establish what he labels as "vertical depth" in his life. The "horizontal growth" he explains has been wonderful but he senses a need to grow some roots.

I have never thought of it that way.

He speaks a language that I do not remember from my own youth. There seems to be a greater depth of understanding or reflection on his part toward the value of his experiences.

As he explained his plan from this point forward,
I found myself thinking about the "wisdom of youth".
We talked about responsibility and his need to feel as though he is doing something of value and worth.
And as he spoke of his future I reflected on my past.

Where along the line did I leave behind the excitement of adventure.
I took on what I believed was a responsible path but somewhere along the way I ignored the other.
I ignored the horizontal.

As I considered my own choices, I expressed a concern that he figure out a way to blend the two in his own life...
maintain some adventure,
blend what he considers the horizontal with the vertical...
while feeling the satisfaction of purpose.

When he headed out the door and got in to his second hand truck which proudly displays the logo of his newly created adventure company,
I had a wide grin on my face and my mind was racing.
He left me with some questions and reflections of my own
and one clear certainty....
it is time for me to rediscover the horizontal in my own life.

I am linking this inspirational moment over to Debra at  Common Ground
and to Savvy Southern Style: Wow us Wednesday


  1. Good for him and best wishes to him. I believe in this.

  2. Wow, your nephew is very wise. This is a very thought-provoking post, Donna. Thanks for sharing your stories with us! I know you must be so proud of your nephew.


  3. What a powerfully moving post Donna!!!!!!!
    He sounds incredible, this young man - talk about having your " act " together
    ( I still don't - vertically or horizontally )
    LOVE LOVE LOVE this..............
    Please link this up everywhere - there's such an important message here!
    Big hugs,

  4. How eloquently stated Donna :) What a clever young man, and an equally wise Aunt for recognizing the subtext of his decisions. I walk away with a lot of thoughts from this post and questions regarding my own horizontal in my life. Thank you for the food for thought!!

    1. Well he had the same effect on me Jileen. I have been thinking about our discussion ever since. Certainly life does not wait for keeps rolling ahead.

  5. Donna what a powerful post. Maybe because I can relate to the sensation of looking back at my life and remembering that sense of adventure that now seems so diluted. I'm star struck by your nephew's thirst for worldly experiences as well as purpose and value. (I'm curious if his siblings are similar) He seems wise beyond his years but I like your advice to him. You've given me something to ponder with the horizontal and vertical concept of living. Especially now that I'm on the verge of being an empty nester, I feel especially intrigued by the idea of creating new adventures in my life. Although mine would look very different from his :)
    By the way, very cool photos of yesteryear!

  6. Interesting, white water rafting is what is popular in BC, many people have tried the mighty Fraser River. I've never been the adventurous sort, rafting in a wooden box does not look like fun to me.
    Have a great week.

  7. I'm not very adventurous myself, so I do hope you'll share with us when you explore your "horizontal" side!


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