Comfort is something I’ve touched on in past blogs; namely being comfortable with the uncomfortable. This has become my mantra for much of my life and a year ago last week, I was forced to end a journey that tested that MO.
That experience, well documented on this site, changed me and changed my perspective on life in general. I yearn to go back and at times enter my garage where Ocean’s Soul is kept, and refuse to look at her knowing full well the allure she casts on me. Until you’ve experienced life at a minimalist level, where you are forced to pick and choose between wants and needs and weigh them against the forces of drag, friction and in turn weigh them once more against your own human powered output and mother nature herself, you won’t fully grasp what it is that I miss and want so badly to be back toying with.
Whether you climb mountains, hike trails, ride a bike or paddle an ocean, the basis of this type of adventuring is that you do it totally reliant on yourself, physically and mentally. There truly is an I in your ‘team’ and its you and you alone.
A year has passed since row4autism launched and much has changed while other things have remained the same. I was honored to be elected to the Board of Directors with ACT (Autism Community Training) a group that was a beneficiary of row4autism’s efforts and produced the online video resource that we helped fund. Correction…that YOU helped fund through your collective donations to my cause.
The resource can be accessed here: http://www.actcommunity.ca/education/videos/
My health has improved but its safe to say I know my limits better now than I did then. As father time checked off year 39 on my body’s odometer last week, I feel as inspired and driven as ever before, but with more fruitful wisdom and understanding of what possible looks like for me. For the time being, it looks like this – training, with human cargo 😉
My adventuring this year will comprise of a conservative weeks worth of rowing in the Johnstone Strait, picking up where I left off last year in Kelsey Bay (Sayward, BC) and ending in Port Hardy; a distance of 150km give or take. The Inside Passage is world renowned for a reason and I fully intend to experience it first hand sitting inches above the surface of the water and under my own power. Projected stops will include Telegraph Cove, Port McNeill and Port Hardy with the desire to bring the awareness and message that is row4autism. Although our video resource was launched and is now live, sustaining it is my next challenge. My hope is that those reading this will feel inspired to make a contribution no matter how small, towards keeping the resource active and updated.
You can donate directly here: https://proceansports.wordpress.com/donate/
On the home front, my son Brandon has had his best year to date in terms of his growth and learning. As autism itself is an adventure, his adventures this year proved challenging but by no means impossible. His therapy team endured an overhaul of sorts where as his parents, we adjusted the sails so to speak. For those in similar shoes, you can understand the gravity of such a decision and the concern that immediately followed. I equate it to knowingly and willingly demasting a sailboat in rough conditions and trying to re-rig everything whilst still moving and still exposed to the conditions. Autism is really no different. Brandon’s needs are a 24/7 challenge that like the weather, can bring days comprising of a gentle breeze, others a gale and others still a calamity. Oddly in the immediate weeks following, there was no feared regression in his behavior’s and it was as though he silently understood there was change happening out of his direct control and he was alright with it. What followed in the subsequent months was telling of the fortitude of my wife, his team and Brandon himself.
In less than two months following his introduction to a newly revised therapy team, he had learned his entire multiplication tables up to 12. Writing and reading, often his less desirable subjects soon became a mainstay not just at school and in his home therapy, but in his homework time with myself or his mom. He matured, he adapted and he persisted. Make no mistake that when he wasn’t inspired or happy he made it known; but the steps he took were more so leaps this year and the thanks I have to spread around goes full circle to the people that have been a part of his life and learning, both past and present.
One other aspect that grew this year was the bond between his home and school teams. It’s never been a small feat to take proven therapies from his home programs and adopting them into his school environment. The culmination however, of many efforts has worked and become accepted and understood. Through in class activities such as skits and lectures on autism and its traits to events and information sessions, the word is spreading. People are becoming aware and the needs of those with autism are being met. As Brandon transitions to his senior elementary years and soon after high school, the anxiety for me builds, but equally drives me. High School will be a challenge in that the shear numbers will prove daunting. More teachers, more homework, more peers and so on. Nothing that’s transpired in his ten years of life has me thinking any of it is impossible, but rather has me reaching for life’s proverbial seat belt and cinching it a little tighter. It stands to be a great ride with much more of the same yet a whole lot of different.
I thought I would close with mention of an event that was launched just late last week and is making headlines around the world. R2AK (Race to Alaska) is an event that has one simple rule…no motors. (http://r2ak.com/) Entrants must use human power or wind power to propel themselves from Port Townsend, WA to Ketchikan, AK over 750 miles of ocean. Aside from two mandatory check points, the rest of the course is up to Mother Nature and a good helping of God speed.
Why is this relevant?
Despite the synonymous nature to row4autism as an adventure (although R2AK takes it to a whole other level), it speaks more of the human body’s endurance both mentally and physically and adapting to foreseen and unforeseen circumstances. So many parallels can be drawn to autism and its inherent challenges to both the individual, the parents, the service providers and educators.
In the face of adversity, one must adapt and be open to change and always strive to try. I would expect that the families of these inspiring sailors and adventurers would ask no more of them than I would ask of an individual faced with the challenges of autism trying to navigate life.
To them and to all that are a part of the global autism community, I tip my hat filled with respect and adoration.
Wishing you all a pleasant and safe summer!