The day started with an early rise and a glance outside the tent. Winds were well over 20kts and due to increase. I turned and decided to do some reading and awaited my sisters arrival later that day. Its amazing how many thoughts run through ones mind and how on one hand I figured if I could push on, I’d be waiting out this wind and possibly sitting in Sayward the balance of the week. I argued within myself with the notion of getting a little further up the coast. Perhaps even make it past Telegraph Cove and into Port McNeill. My back had other ideas and in my most conscious of minds knew I had made the correct decision for the given moment.
The short of it is simply that my sister Cindy and brother in law Nelson, God love them, met me, we collected my gear, loaded the boat and drove back to Nanaimo eventually arriving home in Burnaby later that evening. Seeing my family and parents was nice, don’t get me wrong, but so much felt unfinished and so much felt completely numb and raw. Only when you experience something at this level do you truly understand how much there is to process. Not just the dissatisfaction of not being able to continue, but processing the many moments of connection and the contacts made, places been and seen and truly sorting through the appreciation for the world we live in. It has been overwhelming to be back when so much of me wants to resume things and be on the island.
To bring closure and understanding to what is happening, I had appointments with my RMT, my Chiropractor and Orthopedist yesterday. My gene pool contains history of De-generative Disc Disease (DDD) which is a form of spinal arthritis. I knew about a year ago that spurs on my facet joints had set in already and that although irreversible, it was possible to slow down its effects. The subsequent days of rowing and the abuse and pressures on the body were such that I aggravated my condition to a point where my lumbar joints locked up. When this happens, the surrounding muscles, those big bad erectors, go into protective mode and begin to spasm to compensate for the loss of movement. Its one ugly chain of happenings and they each need attention in one form or another. It will take time to re-gain that fluid mobility and work towards preventative measures, but for now that equates to no substantial physical activity.
I also met with Canucks Autism Network (CAN) and Autism Community Training (ACT) yesterday afternoon for what I thought was going to be a one on one conversation detailing things as they were, are and where they will be. It turned out CAN/ACT put on a little gathering of sorts with their entire staff and had a small reception to thank me and row4autism’s efforts. I was humbled, overwhelmed and felt so undeserving but equally appreciative. They are hands down two of the best organizations I have ever had the honor of being associated with. From top to bottom, their staff and collective efforts are a massive net benefit to our local autism community here in BC. I cannot thank them enough for the opportunity to work together and their continued support. Trust that for those of you who made monetary contributions and those considering to do so, I assure you the resource we are building is not only under way, but will be seen through to fruition.
I have been in minimal contact with family and friends the past two days as I regroup and let my mind and body settle. There exists a psychological aspect to this that I am struggling with and perhaps warrants explanation here. Some have asked why I am hung up on the fact I didn’t complete what I set out to do. They have indicated how proud they still are and how its about the cause and awareness – all fair and very valid points. But, my inner ‘man’, perhaps ego perhaps adventurous side has always set goals in life and come hell or high water I have always found a way and means to attain them. I say it, I do it. When I took up mountaineering it would have been wise to ease into it, try some smaller mountains and get acclimatized to the sport itself so to speak. Instead, I set my sights on books, gear and opted to climb Mount Rainier as my first summit attempt and then deciding after that experience if it was something I would enjoy. Its not the desire to be different or to go against convention, but rather its about challenge and the unknown. Its putting oneself out there and outside the levels of comfort that so many people stay tied to their entire lives.
The struggle I feel and that I recognize will pass, is one of letting myself down. In preparing for this journey I trained body and mind. To be perfectly honest I truly felt that any setback would have been the result of my fears getting the better of me. The seclusion perhaps, the wild, the animals, the ocean conditions or the boat itself. As much as all of that took up residence in my mind, it never overtook it. I was never in fear or in danger. The very things I thought would become issues, simply weren’t and I relished in the solitude that it was. I would hear the weather pick up or see waves building and it was never a question of what to do or how to get out of it. It was simply, head down and push forward. The boat exceeded my expectations in performance and stability. The very thing I counted on, trained the most and thought would never fail me, indeed did; and that is a lot to wrap my head around.
In the coming days and weeks there will me much that I pull from that took place on this trip. It has already changed my views of how much we mistreat mother Earth. It has shown me above all things to believe and trust again in the human spirit and that unconditional kindness does exist. It has shown me how much we take for granted and how little we appreciate some days.
I slept on beaches, on docks, on front porches, in an RV. I bathed myself in the open ocean and in a public washroom. I drank water from a stream and ate food cooked over an open fire. It was existence and survival in a most simple means rid of all things that truly proved to me, really don’t matter. We flood our lives with things we are convinced we need or that will somehow make life more convenient. Yet when we lose a wifi connection or our cell phones lose power its somehow the end of the world. We have become so reliant on modern convenience and accessorizing our lives with so much shit that we’ve forgotten how to truly ‘live’. We’ve opted to get carried in the societal evolutionary wave that see’s change as financial reward and opportunity; and as the world turns, so do the capitalist minds that run the ‘you really need this’ ideology mills that we frolic to and get lost in.
Row4Autism is about autism, its awareness and the opportunity to collect support to build a legacy resource for all to access and use. As much as the vehicle that was the idea of a complete circumnavigation did not pan out, the mission is by no means done. I will fix myself and focus on building this resource with CAN and ACT from both the funds we already have and those that continue to come in. The success of the project is about empowering others, educating them and creating awareness and understanding. The physical rowing piece will resume, but in what shape or form or when is not an answer I have today – so trust that the site will remain functional and the donation links very much active.
All the extras I or Ivy have shared here through this blog were always with the intention of bringing you along on this journey and hoping that it created an interest and raised your eyebrows to not just autism, but to humanity, to life lessons and to the nature of a simple existence. I want to thank every follower, supporter, those who donated, those who encouraged, for standing behind this project. You were not standing behind me alone, but rather an entire community.
I leave you with two photo’s that have and do speak to me. The first is an inscription that adorns the boats middle bulkhead and came from a special place that reminds me to stay true to myself no matter what life throws my way.
The second, is a frame I saw in Sayward at a small gift shop at the main docks. It sat by itself on the floor, mostly ignored, but with a powerful message, and its a fitting ending to this blog today and hopefully something you can all pull from each and every day.
A million times over, thank you so much for supporting this endeavour thus far and helping make a huge difference in the lives of those living with autism.