Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Good Question

This is what my mother said when she learned that my husband and I, along with several members of his family were planning to raft Westwater Canyon. That same year a man had lost his life at Skull Rapids. Her exact words, "Oh, Kass, why invite death?" It became our slogan for the trip as we did flip at Skull Rapids. My husband was sucked under the entire length of the raft. Somehow, we all managed to avoid death or serious injury. We all went bobbing along until we managed to regroup and continue our adventure. A family member who has his own foundry made us all a belt buckle like this.  It is one of my treasures.
How many times in our lives have we taken risks for the sake of a thrill, or in the least, an enhanced experience? 

Here in the west, we have a little re-enactment called the Pioneer Trek. It is supposed to keep the pioneer spirit alive as participants impose upon themselves the same hardships endured by their ancestors. In 2008, a 14-year-old girl and a 74-year-old man were killed when a man in a pick-up with the sun in his eyes plowed into the back of their handcart. This was a freak accident and could have happened even if the group were not ambling along the highway dressed as Pioneers. But people, REALLY, isn't there a better way to appreciate the pioneers? (I have a problem with imposed hardships - and that includes most reality shows). 

We all take risks. Some of us weigh the probable outcome of our actions more than others. I know that I am in my second wildhood. I do dumb things. Last year when I was standing on the roof of my cabin with a foot on each side of the peak, being all one with nature, I knew it was kinda dumb. As I wedged a huge piece of snow off the roof, the whole slab of snow whooshed down in one peice. As I quickly picked up my right foot, I muttered, "Oh shit."

As I was riding down the canyon later that day, semi-congratulating myself for removing the snow so quickly, the left front tire suddenly flew off my truck (seems the mechanic had forgotten to tighten the lug nuts correctly). I spun around several times and landed off the road and into the mountain. My weirdly calm thoughts as I was spinning: "So this is what it's like to die or get in a really bad accident." 

I guess a lot of my actions seem to invite death (according to my mother), but truth be told, I don't mind the idea of death at all. It's the next adventure.


  1. Note to handcart company - the Pioneers didn't have plastic.

  2. In all likelyhood, death is the *last* adventure. Have as many as you can while you're still alive to experience them!

  3. i don't mind the idea of death either. and i'm so glad to hear someone else say so! i've said it for years. this isn't suicidal depressive talk. i don't seek out risky endeavors (this is NOT to say i haven't done so in the past), and i don't shy away in fear. i'm just so curious about what happens after. every spiritual path has its own description of the after-life. well, which one is it? one from column A and one from column B? or is it all of them?

  4. Goonie - Good point.

    OKATB - I'm trying to have as many as I can (adventures, that is - not lives). The thing about the afterlife is, no matter what anybody says, NOBODY KNOWS FOR SURE (I think that's the name of my new religion).

    standing - I'll take the one from column B if it comes with a fortune cookie.

  5. Hi Kass,
    You are one brave girl!!
    Thanks for stopping by my blog today....hope you visit again soon.

  6. The why invite death trip was a great trip. Great memories!.

  7. I've done many things that might have been thought of as "inviting death" but I don't regret one of them.

    Being born to me is inviting death because we never know when it'll come.

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  9. You know Kass, there's this connection between sex and death.

    When you invited us to imagine your mother's comment at the beginning of this post for some strange reason I imagined the sort of sexual inhibiting comment a mother might make to her young daughter.

    People play around on the edges of death often in defiance of death a far as I can see.

    And death after all is part of life, it just usually comes at the end of it, though sometimes we get early glimpses, like you did.

    Thanks for this fascinating and thought provoking post.

  10. Are we really inviting dead or is dead walking with us all the time? I don’t think that by taking risk we are inviting dead, I prefer to believe that actually we are just living our life to its fullest!
    Which is the difference between doing rafting and driving a car? The first one is not supposed to be done as we are risking our life.. why? Because we tend to believe that anything that can’t be control by us is risky and therefore exposing us to the unknown. While driving a car is “safe” as we are the one driving it… but safe is a false concept, safety is just a tool that our ego use to slave us and abort any will for adventure.
    I have been doing “crazy” things all my life: rafting and cannoning on a river full of crocodiles and hippos, tracking gorillas on the mountains near to Congo, jumping from the Victoria Falls bridge - 100 mts. free fall, etc… but did I risk more that when I quit my job, or I decided to get married, or I decided to become a yoga instructor, or posting on my blog a very controversial post? I don’t think so, as for me anything that implies moving out of my comfort zone is: inviting death – the old me dies every time I move on ;-)

    Nice post dear Kass!


  11. Janis - I don't know if brave is the right word, but thanks.

    Old Cowboy. - It WAS a pretty great trip. Lots of adventure and free-flying comments. Good to see you here. I enjoy viewing your photos on your blog. The 'old age home for fleas' was a pretty interesting study.

    Christella - That's good that you have no regrets. We do walk around with death all the time, don't we? Good point. So we might as well live as fully as we can.

    Elisabeth - That connection between sex and death was also handled by my mother in many warnings. Remember Erica Jong's book, "Fear of Flying?" The same thing is discussed there. And of course there's "la petit mort" - the little death - a very apt description of some of our most culminating moments when the heart actually stops and as Gabi pointed out - these death-like moments are actually the 'stuff' of real living.

    Gabi - I want to hear more about your adventures in Zambia. Jumping from waterfalls?!! Are you kidding? You're right about the difference between driving and river rafting. What I forgot to mention is how unsafe my old truck was in many ways and driving between the city and my cabin through a winding canyon where accidents abound is always a risk - and according to my mother - one that I unneccessarily take way too often. I especially liked your comment about dying to the old self - moving out of a comfort zone. Even opening ourselves up on a blog is a risk, isn't it? And one that you do so well!

  12. What a great post, Kass! I love the belt buckle! I also enjoyed reading all the comments this post inspired. I agree, if you live your life in fear of death, you're not really living.

    When I was 22, I had the opportunity to go to Israel for free. This was before 9/11 and things weren't quite as "bad." My mother "forbid" me to go, but as a young adult who'd hardly been anywhere her whole life, I wasn't going to turn down a free trip to Israel. I'd never flown or been to a foreign country other than Canada. Now that I'm a bit older I do understand what my mother was so worried about, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat. That trip has shaped me in ways I'm still learning about, and I'm glad I didn't let fear (or my mother's fears) keep me from the experience.

  13. Alanna - I love what you did at age 22. I would love to hear more about this. Perhaps you'll cover it on your blog. I hope so.

  14. Hi Kass! Thanks! That's a great idea! (And one I never would've thought of!) I have pictures stowed away from that trip, I'm going to pull them out and see what kind of memories and writing they bring forth! Thanks again!

  15. Nope, I don’t get it. When I was a kid and had little regard for myself and knew that my parents would look after me no matter what I did then fine, I’d do daft things but nowadays I won’t even run for a bus. With all the ice that’s about at the moment I’ve literally only stepped out of my front door once and that was to drop a black bag in the wheelie bin and I trod carefully. The thought of falling and injuring myself is a real fear. I don’t even go on fairground rides.

  16. Good point, Jim. I haven't had health insurance for 15 years. You'd think I'd be more careful.

  17. There's danger and then there's excitement!

    I've always been terrified of dying - never grew out of that childish obsession with it - only it isn't the fear of dying as such but the fear of how my death will make my children feel. Perhaps I should start being beastly to them in preparation?

  18. How about the inverse statement:
    Why repel life?

  19. Rachel - Yes, having a beastly parent die is infinitely better than a good mother dying! You're a hoot.

    Todd - You always WERE good with inverse and adverse statements. Ex.: "Coke Is Spit."

  20. The "Why Invite Death" raft became a famous accompaniment to Bear Lake trips. And your mom's assessment became one of the quotes we continue to use. It can be used in any context when you want to point out the absurdity of situations people put themselves into. Good discussion.

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  22. REC - My mom has a number of really good quotes. Of one of the boys I dated, she said, "Oh but Kass, he has no oomph!" She was, of course, exactly right.


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