How We Struggle with Self-Image and Living with Little Regret

Let me start by saying I completely, wholeheartedly, and knowingly relinquish myself to the self-hatred of saying, “This is my ‘brand’. This is who I am.”

There is fear in professing and projecting our own values and opinions outwardly, but without such expression there would be no progress.  Yes, it feels great to look back on the work that I have completed and the laurels it has afforded, however, that is not what keeps me motivated and it shouldn’t motivate you either. As George Orwell put it, “ I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.”

The process is putting in the time and effort. To find an audience that shares similar tendencies and connect with them while opening up conversations with those who oppose my words. Through this relationships I hope I can find people who can contribute just as much to my writing as I can to their reading.

If I graduated college looking for credit despite creating amatuer, mediocre but fully passionate work, I can’t remember. Today I realize that searching for credit is searching for your ego. It’s an endless cycle with a balancing act on razor blades. The falls will feel larger and the highs will never be enough.

My goal at the end of this journey is to earn the title "explorer". It is my ego that craves this title. I hope I move past it.

I have done many things I am proud of, but I have a list that grows everyday of things that I want to discover. It will be my journey, researched, carried out, and expanded upon in writing and through different outlets.

It's a way for me to give sanity to the mind. The key is in the transference of information and knowledge.  To be labeled an "explorer" means sharing what I discover.

I would have to say that explorers are amateurs. They dare to go where they (nor anyone else) has been and do not feel adequate. They know that unchartered places are still out there, and that to fill them in means to take risks.

However, their goal is to see the disconnected dots of information and compile them into knowledge. That knowledge then has the potential to become education for others.

The title "Everyday Explorer" is to suit just that sentiment. I travel and experiment and try to discover something new everyday. So, in fact, I could just as easily associate with the name “Everyday Amateur”.

I found this written in my notes and cannot remember writing it. I do not think it is a quote from someone else, but if it is familiar to anyone please let me know.

“It is but the turmoil to create and realize how hard it actually is to drive oneself into the darkest corners of our minds that humbles humanity.

To see the infected seas of minds, all dwindling in search of one true impression, is my biggest interest.  Everyone looking about, thinking they are not crazy while making sure they hide all their bits not fit for public in the dark recesses of their minds.”


Exploring At Home: Bayou Style

As we drive up to the boat launch grounds Kate's eyes widen, "We have to ride in a canoe together?" She says this as if we have done this before (we have) and then argued (we did) like all couples. 

See, I lured Kate away from a morning of sleeping in late by promising adventure - and personal kayaks. Now, we see an afternoon of couples counseling that - as a self-proclaimed natural writer - I can only describe as "Ikea-esque". 

Today, Chad Almquist, owner and guide for Canoe and Trail Adventures, has graciously let us tag along with the New Orleans chapter of the Sierra Club on their Cane Bayou excursion. Between back and forth emails setting up the outing I imagined a grizzled, slightly overweight Cajun with outdated gear. However, I was pleasantly proved incorrect when I met Chad. He has a smile that is instantly inviting, a quick wit, and a very relaxed demeanor. Some people are made to take strangers out into new environments for a day and bring them back safely. Chad is definitely the guide you want at your disposal.  

At times hilarious, at other times very informational, the 70 year-old outdoor nuts, Chad, Kate and I begin cruising down the current-less waterway. "Bayou" defines a body of slow moving, almost still, waterway. Typically it does not have a defined inlet or source which differentiates it from creeks. Bayous also are not technically brackish although many people mislabel them as estuaries.. 

An afternoon spent two inches above water that contains snakes, alligators, gar, and numerous insects may seem odd to some, but for people looking for an escape from conrete New Orleans or a quick adventure to be back in time for a milk punch, this is it.

Kate, my forever trusting, lovely partner, and I made a day out of it even though we prefer different speeds to life. I have included a video of her longest consecutive paddling session below as proof to her sense of adventure.

On one turn of the bayou route we are told to steer clear to the left bank because Big Joe, the 12-foot alligator with one eye, is on the right bank. The description of Big Joe is enough to conjure up Cajun tales and folklore, but mostly alligators stay to themselves and Big Joe has clearly let more than his fair share of boaters pass by unscathed. It is a rush to be down on the same level as an alligator. They are massive, magical creatures. They have fought for millennia to stay on this Earth and definitely need to be protected.

Bayou Cane Outing Adventure Storytelling Map

By looking at the map above I will write more stories about our adventure in our backyard. From the illicit house one of Huey P. Long's administrators built from stolen goods and workers to the precious mussels the Sierra Club fought to prevent being dredged up in Lake Pontchartrain, there are numerous tales tucked inside the bayou.

It's always important to remember that although the sexy version of "exploring" is to traipse across the globe, hike up mountains, swim to the depths of the oceans, there is still so much to learn at home. 

My goal for 2017 is not to neglect what is right in front of me as I look to explore more. I will focus on learning more details about history, ecology, and culture in and around New Orleans, my forever home.