A great deal of inspiration in the paddling world is visual. We watch kayakers descend precipitous waterfalls and challenging whitewater sections that seem to have no end, and view canoeists exploring remote northern rivers and tundra-covered landscapes. We scroll through Instagram feeds and take in images from expeditions, and marvel at the moments frozen in the pages of Rapid and Canoeroots.
Less time is often spent taking a moment to listen to the experiences of paddlers and to reflect without the visual stimulation. After coming across several talks by canoeists, kayakers and adventurers, we handpicked the most inspiring. What we love about each of these talks is that the speaker is able to use a personal and specific lesson their experiences taught them and transform it into a universal message for the audience.
1. Frank Wolf
“Beyond Hedonism: Adventuring for the Good of the Planet” at TedxWestVancouverED
This filmmaker and adventurer reflects on his impressive career and explains that the motivation for his self-propelled expeditions used to be more hedonistic. For the first part of his career he didn’t see the big picture potential for using his camera to give back to the wild areas he travelled through. Once he began to hear people’s stories in the wild and remote communities his adventures passed through, his expeditions were greatly enriched, far more than when the motivation was just for pleasure.
2. Ben Marr
Ben Marr is one of the top whitewater kayakers in the world. His exploration of remote rivers and his distinctive style have made him a household name in the kayaking community. At Multiplicity 2016, he got the crowd stoked by highlighting the amazing places there are for whitewater in the Sea to Sky corridor of British Columbia. He also touches on how travelling makes him appreciate home, and specifically the Pacific Northwest. Watch the full video here.
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3. Emily Jackson
“Uncompromising” at TedxVail
Emily Jackson is a professional whitewater kayaker, a mother, a wife and the team manager for Jackson Kayak. She also lives the life she wants by focusing on the five things that are important to her and working to avoid compromising on them. In this great talk at TedxVail, Jackson draws on her childhood, lessons learned from her parents and explains what it means to live without compromise.
4. Bruce Kirkby
Bruce Kirkby is a wilderness writer and adventure photographer who has visited more than 80 countries. In this talk at Multiplicity 2016, Kirkby begins with a letter from a lost young man and draws on his own life of adventurous jobs and travels. He focuses on the idea that in our society, freedom is sometimes seen as a fleeting quality indulged for a few years before settling into real life. “It’s never necessary to accept the choices that life appears to hand to us,” he says. Watch the full talk here.
5. Adam van Koeverden
“The Pursuable Prime” at TedxToronto
When Adam van Koeverden was thirteen, his mom agreed to drive him to 5 a.m. practice at the local canoe and kayak club on one condition. Van Koeverden was to knock on his mom’s bedroom door with a coffee in hand. If he failed to do so, he would have to ride his bicycle eight kilometers to practice. Van Koeverden explains that this requirement allowed him to make canoeing his own thing, and to take ownership of it. He goes on to explain the concepts of executive capacity and value exchange and what role they have played in his career as an Olympic and World Champion kayaker.