Whitewater Wednesday: Leadership learned from the river.

Today is an early start, and it reminds me of the many early starts during my time in the Forks.

But not one of the good ones. Today reminds me of the days when you knew you weren’t going to the river.

For me the good days started with the low rumble of a tired Suburban and the sound of its tires rolling over the gravel up to the door of my pop-up camper. That was usually enough, but if I delayed, a honk from the horn soon followed. Jon always seemed to be up before anyone else and ready to go.

The good days started with a trip to Berry’s General Store. Large coffee, and egg salad sandwich with the biggest “blue” flavour Poweraid on the shelf. That sport drink didn’t last till the register. Pay for an empty bottle and recycle on the way out.

The good days started with a slow drive to Moxie Pond just to turn around and drive back. Jon believed in commuting to work, even if you literally live where you work. So we drove, sippin’ coffee, laughin’, sometimes we just sat in silence enjoying the cool fresh air though the windows.

The good days meant heading to the river. It never mattered which one, or who you were with. On a good day the river was the destination and those days I cherished and miss.

But there were other days.

We often joked that we were a professional painting company, that happened to raft a bit on the weekends.

The other days started out similarly. There was always a trip to Berry’s but instead of river gear or that old pair of favourite Carhartts, you put on whatever you didn’t mind being covered in forest green paint, or spar varnish, and added to the list of coffee and egg salad a jug of paint thinner. I hate paint thinner.

In eight years as a professional whitewater raft guide I learned that you spend a lot of time doing things you really don’t like doing, in order to live for the good days. I miss the good days, and I will always miss my friend Jon, but I don’t miss the painting at all.

Now that I’m older the “bad days” of life can be much worse than a day of painting. A good hot coffee, friends, laughs, and some good tunes remind me that when you are with those you love you can survive the bad days and it makes the good ones that much sweeter.

I still really hate painting….