December 23, 2017
Joe Writes . . .
Happy Holidays to all who care about rivers, woods and water in Michigan and all over this land. Be vigilant; these are perilous times.
I was recently gobsmacked by the realization that I have lived longer than my father did. Ralph H Neely, Jr., lived for 62 years and 8 months. He died in 1988, a few days after Thanksgiving. I’m at 62 years, 11 months, and counting. Fully mindful that no one knows when their hour will come (Ecclesiastes 9:12), this voyage along the length of the Grand is one element of my attempt to embrace a lifestyle aimed at securing some degree of joyful longevity, something my father did not have.
The number one longevity-enhancing step I took was to quit drinking alcohol. I was never a moderate drinker, and for the better part of my 50’s I drank myself into isolated places where nothing could touch me, at least until the next morning. The next remorseful, hung-over morning. It’s damn near certain that I would not have followed through on this journey down the river were I still drinking. I just didn’t have the energy back then. (I have written previously about alcohol being a factor in my decision to begin this journey.)
How our father would have loved following our journey down the Grand! Come to think of it, perhaps he is. I wish he could come with us for a day; three big guys in a canoe might present a problem but we’d find a way to make it work. Dad wasn’t really the outdoorsy type but neither were my brother nor I before we began this quest.
To everything there is a season. A time to retreat from the world, and a time to run its rivers. That’s from Ecclesiastes, too, although unchurched baby boomers are more likely to credit the Byrds. With this voyage I have found a new challenge and am having a great deal of fun. My life’s clock runs backwards.
What makes your rapids run?
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When in doubt, take the river’s side. Industry has plenty of friends.
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Joe@lengthofthegrand.com (Joe Neely, the mercurial one, think John)
Tom@lengthofthegrand.com (Tom Neely, the happy-go-lucky one, think Ringo)