Thursday, March 29, 2007

I done total, utter, complete accident.

updated lunchtime 3/30 with a few more links - scroll down to "go Taino go!"

Seems like most of the time, for most people aside from fortunate few (Gandhi, Mother Theresa, George Bailey), the way life works out is that we muddle along, trying to do our best, but maybe not always knowing if our actions are leading to good stuff, or to the place that's said to be at the end of that storied road that's paved with good intentions.

In my muddling along, I have actually managed to get involved in one or two things that clearly HAVE had good results. Once upon a time, there was a vehement, but well-behaved, community uprising/letter-writing campaign that saved the Yonkers Paddling and Rowing Club from the wrecker's ball a few years back. That was awesome. I think I was one of the early sounders-of-the-call-to-save-the-club, because I was so appalled at the idea of that old boathouse being knocked down to serve some stupid political ends (long story...) - but just one of a number, and the response was unbelievable, and in the end I don't think any one person's participation was the key, that was a triumph that belonged to the entire paddling community. You could never ever apportion it out by shares. Boy, I LOVE it when stuff like that happens.

I've also done things that I think were good, but I'll never ever know if they actually mattered. Tip-top of that list was stopping a lot of people from going somewhere I knew they shouldn't go on Sept. 11th, after the first plane but before the second - I came out of the door to the mall to find myself face to face with a whole newly arrived & momentarily oblivious commuters who'd just stepped off an E train & thought that they were going to walk on into the WTC mall, get their coffee & go to work same as always. I knew the police were evacuating the mall because I'd just come into the subway from there, and I'd just been chased away from the only other exit in the vicinity by four cops running towards me screaming "NOT THIS WAY!"; I really wanted to keep going but there wasn't anybody telling all these that they couldn't go into the mall - so I stopped & made announcements for as long as it took to get them all redirected away from the mall. Again, I look back & I like myself for doing that when I really wanted to just keep going. I don't know if my stopping when I saw something that seemed like it should be done & nobody doing it really made any big difference, the police would have been turning them back a minute later when they got inside...but I like that I did.

Fact is, everybody thinks of the police & the firemen when they think of "heroes of 9/11", and I'd never want to detract from them - but there were an awful lot of smaller, quieter acts of bravery there that day & I'm glad I had one of 'em. Even if it was only a minute or two long & probably didn't make that much of a difference.

Makes a good story anyways. although I always feel a little weird trotting that stuff out. kinda heavy for this blog...still, it's the best example of my entire life, I think, where I did something that I think was genuinely kind of brave, but will never know if it made any significant difference. Now there was one lady who I made get on what was probably the last train out of there - that's the only person who I'm pretty sure had a measurably better day because I happened to be where I was when I was.

Every now & then, though, you do get lucky enough to find out that something you do really HAS made a difference. Way, way back in February, I got an email from a friend saying "Wow, great work hooking up Taino" (a very accomplished local paddler) "with that Puerto Rico expedition!"

Now, I have been doing a LOT of work on a lot of fronts lately, much of it pretty darned good, I think, but I hadn't lifted so much as a finger to connect anybody with any expeditions...but I went straight to the Chasing the Ana site, and read "Through Bonnie, known to bloggers as "Frogma", he learned of our intention to circumnavigate Puerto Rico."

emailed him right away.

"You're going where? with who? and you found out how? COOL!"

He got right back to me. Yes, he'd found them through a link on my blog - and as it turns out, their plans dovetailed perfectly with something that had been a dream & a goal of his since he began kayaking a few years ago.

He asked me to kind of keep quiet about it for a while though. Smart. One of our locals getting in on something like that? That would've been worth an immediate post - but a fair number of NY area paddlers read this blog, and at that point Taino wasn't sure enough about the cat to let it out of the bag in any major way. I could see his point - the only thing worse than having the opportunity to fulfill a dream & then having it fall through because you couldn't swing the money/time/whatever would be to have all the local paddlers excited for you & then find out that it had all fallen through.

However, he sent an email to a bunch of us recently & it sounds like it is definitely a go, and I emailed & said "Can I post now?" and he said yep!

Go Taino go!

3/30 lunchtime update - a couple more links - more on both Taino the paddler, and Taino the people.
2/11/07 - Welcome Aboard Taino Almestica
Taino's profile
Official Tribal Government Website of Jatibonicu Taino Tribal Nation of Boriken
Wikipedia entry on the Taino

Congratulations, I hope it all goes GREAT.

In the meantime, I'm rather enjoying the odd sensation of knowing that this silly hobby has apparently led someone directly to a way that he could hopefully achieve a dream faster than he would have otherwise (AAAAGH! I PROBABLY JUST CURSED IT! EVERYBODY! PLEASE! KNOCK! WOOD! RIGHT! NOW!!!!!), completely & utterly unaware of the fact that I'd done so until I got that "nice work!" email. Awfully pleasant symmetry to times when I've tried to do something good, knowing full well that I'd never know whether I'd even made a measurable difference (or if that difference was good or bad!).

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