Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Long Journeys: The River .... and a Sidebar on Journeywomen

Love Your Big Muddy

I love that this river adventurer is a woman, she's of a certain age, and she's a fellow Missourian. She lives 30 miles from my hometown.

Her precĂ­s (I've added the links):
My name is Janet Moreland. I am a Missouri River paddler from Columbia, MO, most often found at or near Cooper's Landing. I recently graduated from college with a degree in Education, and am now certified to teach middle school social studies and/or science. Currently, I am in the midst of a 3700-mile Source-to-Sea solo kayak expedition from the Missouri River source at Brower's Spring, Montana, to the Gulf of Mexico. I left Columbia on April 14, 2013, and anticipate a November completion. My mission includes elements of education, environmental stewardship, and empowering youth, women, and men to confidently pursue their dreams.

Here is a podcast interview with Ms. Moreland at The Pursuit Zone.


In her post here, Ms. Moreland talks about times recently when she felt fear. It was good to see how she felt it and what she did about it. [The bold and underlining are mine.] 

On a treacherous lake crossing that she'd received numerous warnings about, she wrote in her journal: “I need to stop wondering if I’m making the right decision and just trust my judgment. I can SO do this!”

At one campsite where she worried about mountain lions, she reported: " .... That very night, after I was zipped up in my tent, some animal made a loud noise right around dusk just outside my tent. Holy mackerel! It was a honk, cough, yell, growl, screech, or something, I don’t know what.  “Stay calm,” I told myself. “What do you need to do to survive?”  I took the safety off of my bear spray, got my buck knife out, grabbed my machete, and put my whistle around my neck.  I was hoping it was not a mountain lion. ..... "

During a nasty electrical storm: " .... I couldn’t help but think I had just inserted into the ground a lighting rod, which seemed to be the high point on shore, and right outside my shelter.  Oh well, there was nothing more I could do.  I had to wait out the storm, and I did it squatting with only my feet touching ground and my hand on my SPOT “SOS” button.  I thought if lightning struck me, my reflex would press the button....." 

How Ms. Moreland's handled her fear reminded me of two other women who undertook long journeys:

This hilarious telling of Molly Langmuir's four-day solo hike in the Tetons, where she was terrified of encountering a bear. My favorite bit:
On a scale of one to 10, how much fun did you have?
I'm actually not sure I had any fun. The trip was challenging, which I always like, and now that I'm through it, something I'm glad I did, but I basically spent the entire time in a state of sheer terror, so there wasn't much room for fun. I guess a one?

And the book, Wild, by Cheryl Strayed. She told herself that she did not fear mountain lions, bears, or rattlesnakes. That this was necessary for her to be able to embark on the hike. If she'd allowed herself to consider fear, then she couldn't have gone.

But here's the sidebar on journeywomen

There's a lot of debate in the news right now about banning the niqab in some places or not banning, and about imperialist countries imposing their cultural shoulds on other cultures, that a culture will stick up for itself, thank you very much, and so on.

The other day, when I went to the Alamogordo Balloon Invitational by myself, without asking the permission of a brother or father or uncle or husband or son, having driven to the event by myself, in a car that I alone own, and walked around the event unescorted, I appreciated - yet again - how lucky I am that I have the choice to do all of the things I just listed.

When I think about Ms. Moreland, or Ms. Strayed, or Ms. Longmuir's journeys, it is with appreciation that these women have the choice to do such things.

"Such things" including the fundamental human right to use our intelligence and talents to their fullest, without religious, cultural, or other restriction imposed on us because we are women.

This right is called self-determination: the determination of one's own fate or course of action without compulsion; free will.

So while the debate goes on, I'd like this basic tenet not to be lost.

When I'm feeling exasperated about the latest indignity done to women somewhere - control dressed up in the guise of culture - I like to play this video.

Some might consider it a metaphorical middle finger. 

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