River Kayaking

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Some thoughts while on the latter half of a 10-mile kayaking trip down the Chenango River.

• Never has the impression been more profound, the inclination been more fully formed and apparent. I’ve come to terms with this hard inner truth: Kenny Chesney is just the god-damn worst.

• In a job interview recently, I was asked to explain my self-described “love/hate” relationship with social media, and I told them a very fine line exists between substance and noise, between “saturation” and being annoying as hell, and – on the personal side – between privacy and entertainment. I’ve thought about this more since then, probably more than I should. Was my answer a reflection of my own personal approach to social media, or have I constructed a convenient response to disguise the fact that I have nothing interesting to say? (I got the job)

• Paddle like hell for a bit, let up, and then just cruise. Look around. God damn, some sun, a snaking river, and bright, green trees could turn a simple man into Walt Whitman. Whomever or whatever designed this stage got it right.

• Do I look silly in a life preserver, in water that’s barely a foot deep? I look silly, don’t I?

• It’s not that his music is terrible – because it most certainly is – but how many times can a singer go back to the well and come back with a song about hanging on the beach or getting buzzed with a high-school sweetheart? Kenny Chesney is a heinous creature from the Book of Revelation who will rain death and famine and hackneyed bullshit on us all.

• Is my interest in the matters of the world destined to recede and evaporate in the coming years? Is it only natural that my lens will continue to diminish, focusing less on the people and places I read about in newspapers and more on the reality I greet every day? I sense it now, this slow subconscious disposal of things – past interests, social and political engagement, even relationships – and in their place the essentials: family, friends, house, music, books, my little sentences. Maybe it’s just apathy, an excuse to rationalize an unwillingness to put forth attention and effort. Or maybe I’m recognizing my own limitations to internalize information. That, or age has made me more conscious of my time and how I use it. Probably all three.

• Lindsey spots movement along the river bank, and out comes what looks like a black ferret. Its tubular body waddles through the weeds for about 20 feet, jumps to the ledge and disappears. “A weasel? It was a weasel,” I tell Lindz. Nah, she says. “A mongoose. Probably definitely a mongoose.” “I think it might have been a mink,” she says calmly. It was a mink.

• I hope the day never comes when I’m left to decide what to do with some worn tires off my VW and the best solution I can devise is, “Let’s throw these fuckers in the river.”

• I have no desire to own a real boat, but in this moment – an hour, two hours from the end-point – I kinda wish I had a real boat.

• Going on about six hours with this Kenny Chesney song stuck in my head.

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