Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Kindred Spirit - Too Close To Home

Outdoor pursuits such as canoeing has been known to
elevate people to a higher place.

Being a canoehead, I quite often notice and pay attention to canoe related things. Whether books, gear, paddling magazines or even websites. (obviously) Even the topic of canoes or trips gets me all excited as I then quite often get verbal diarrhea! So its a no brainer that it's like a natural reaction of mine or an extension of my personality.

Call it a fatal attraction, canoeing is that to some people.
Without it, its like life lacks energy, purpose
or meaning. It's that important.

One day at work when I headed to our staff room to have lunch, I noticed the usual scattering of magazines and newspapers on the table. Most times I don't even bother because I usually have my own stuff to read. However, what caught my attention was a small picture of a guy in a canoe. As I picked up the magazine, I realized it was a recent edition of MacLean's. I guess someone else had read it and left it open on that page - if not, I would have never even noticed it.

Curious about the article, I read the title, - it was the fellow's full name, including his middle name. And right above, just like the inscription on a tombstone was the year of his birth and death! Oh,...that's not good I thought. So now a bit apprehensive, I read the short intro below the title. "He loved canoeing, and could be seen portaging through suburban streets to get to the river. 'He always wanted to see what was around the bend.'" I knew just from that I already liked him; I continued reading.

My car has often been identified at work with a canoe on the roof.
A fellow from the IT department shot this with his
Blackberry, and sent it to me titled "One
CanoeHead Spotted!!"
Photo: Cameron Gonsalves

I soon forgot about lunch as I became totally absorbed in this short one page article. What became clear was that this fellow by the name of Michael Craig Robinson, fell in love with canoeing, much like myself. Here was a guy that I could see many similarities and feel a kindred spirit. While reading I was mesmerized and understood his passion. He was often spotted at work with his canoe on his roof just like I frequently do. He read many books pertaining to nature, the environment and history like I have. He even missed an important event, like his graduation to go canoeing. I've been guilty on more than one occasion for similar types of offences!

What kind of books did you expect to find in my room?

Sure, I'm probably reading (excuse the pun) too much into this. There are probably dozens of other people that can relate to Mike like I did. However, it doesn't take away from the fact that a promising individual who cared about others and shared his passion for paddling had his life cut short. So you are probably wondering what happened? Well, that's where I end my inadequacies as a writer. The article was well written by Julia Belluz and should be appreciated by actually reading it. I decided to scan it and post it below for all to read. I know its probably questionable posting this article but I have nothing to gain, (monetarily or otherwise) other than a desire to share the life of a brilliant individual who also happens to love canoeing. Here it is below. Click on the picture to enlarge it for easier reading.

All it took was a picture of a
guy in a canoe.

Sure there is no coincidence that his father died of lung cancer like my father did. Nor the fact that we are almost the same age, him being 40 and I 39. Neither is the fact that his plane crashed on July 24, which would have been the first day of his trip, somewhat like July 25, the first day of our big trip. Nevertheless, despite never meeting him, I feel a great sadness and heaviness in my heart towards this kindred spirit, - a passionate paddler. The coincidence of how and why I came to find this one article eludes me, but the similarities and irony hits too close to home. I just hope it all ends here.

My deepest condolences to his wife Tammy and their son Nolan.
Mike, rest in peace.

- from one passionate paddler to another -

Heaven, the ultimate Shangri-La must be
a dream place to paddle.
Enjoy my 'friend'.

PS. If you have a hard time reading the article,
contact me at passionatepaddler@gmail.com and I will email it to you.

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