New York City? Really?

Guests hardly ever believe me when I tell them I lived in New York City for two years. How could a raft guide live there? There’s no rafting there.

As I look back on it, on our time chasing dreams in the magazine industry, I too find it hard to believe how far we’ve come from those fresh-faced degree-wielding days in the city that never sleeps.

Clean shaven, short hair, and a lot of collars, I thought the world was at my feet. From PR agencies to publishing houses, this was the big chance to find success.

But how much do you really know at 22?

Looking back, I’m thankful for the opportunities I had. Tracking investments, conducting interviews, Third Wave Fashion opened the door for me to be a writer, a published writer at that. Living in Manhattan provided lessons I never anticipated, from city slush in January to heat-rashed ice baths in July because air conditioning didn’t exist in our East Harlem apartment.

Yet, despite so many memories, so many people met, it’s hard to believe we lived there.

In my third year as a raft guide, I’ve been told by friends and family that this job makes total sense. I’m outside, I’m “in my element” and loving every moment chasing new dreams.

But these same people never saw me in New York. They never saw the late-night bus rides after fashion-tech meetups, or the furiously scribbled notes from interviews that still hide in the shelves of our office.

Our life in New York taught me to work faster, to expect more out of those around me, and to make hard decisions. In that past life I was a writer, I followed stories and helped guide opinions through a still-young industry.

Now, fashion is a new PFD. Everyday-tech consists of little more than a simple watch to keep trips running on time.

It’s hard sometimes to accept that we lived in New York City, but it shaped who I became. Who I am. To draw correlations between life in Manhattan and life running rivers is difficult, but I know it’s this combination that will guide me into the future.

And that’s what it’s all about.

Not where you’ve been, but where you will go because of it.

Be Water

Be water.

As a raft guide, water is my life; as a human, water is essential to life. On a personal level though, water is much more.

Water is strong, water is powerful, water is humbling. Until recently I whole-heartedly believed in the adage to just “go with the flow” and take life as it comes, but this ideology is flawed.

It may be cliché to talk about water and reference Bruce Lee’s famous “be water” quote, but if you don’t know it, the philosophy is this:

Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.

Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.

The value in the idea of being formless yet forming to everything is untouchable; in modern society it seems harder today than ever before.

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But is it? Really?

As a raft guide I’ve flipped boats, I’ve rocketed out of rafts because of mistimed paddle strokes and I’ve been stuck under rafts in class III and IV whitewater; the key, in my mind, though is not just to go with the flow, but to embody its dynamic force. Feel the power around you, develop understanding with the current and in that moment of humility allow the energy to manifest itself within and through you, guiding you to a better place.

I have written before about the unmatched power of water, but in considering my experiences and the words above, contextualized by the current state of global politics, I believe we must allow ourselves to be guided by the energy around us.

Regardless of cultural background or political standing, there is value to be found in the water analogy. According to philosophers Charles Hartshorne and William L. Reese, the Tao Tê Ching teaches:

The highest good may be likened to water.
Water benefits all creatures yet does not strive or argue with them.
It rests content in those lowly places which others despise…

To me, this doesn’t conflict with any belief system. Believe in whatever God(s) you want, I won’t tell you you’re wrong, but in the idea of making ourselves like water and “resting content in those lowly places which others despise,” we may find a rejuvenated appreciation for those people around us. Family, friends, neighbors, let us derive our purpose from benefit of each other, finding our way to those at rock bottom and surrounding them with the relentless energy of forward progress.

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Like the unyielding power of water, we flow forward; at times raging and torrential, more-often-than-not placid and welcoming. Let’s be like that. Together, let’s be water.

The Veiled Woman

I don’t know her name, I don’t know who created her or what she was made of.

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Walking through the famous Louvre, on a hurried three hour tour to see the greats of the museum, one sculpture caught my eye; a veiled woman, standing isolated at the end of a display, solemnly gazing at the crowds inevitably passing her without a second of consideration.

To say art speaks to people is a cliché to be avoided, yet, regardless of reasoning her hollow gaze pierced me, calling me from the crowd to pause a moment at her feet. I took pictures, I lost myself in question and simply stood in her presence, thanking this seemingly avoided woman for reaching out to share this brief moment together.

Paris was beautiful, and the Louvre was more than I could have ever imagined, but in the midst of the Mona Lisa’s fame, and the classic romance of the French capital, she stopped me in my tracks.

Among the Michelangelos, the veiled woman looked into me, and asked me what I saw.

Want to know more about our trip to Paris? Destination: Paris over on The Eddy Folk has a look at how we maximized our short time in the City of Love

100 Mile March: A Running Goal

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It’s true, the feeling that you get when you run, especially when you run well, is unmatched. It’s a combination of strength and fulfillment that are difficult to explain, but are immediately recognizable once you’ve felt them.

With that being said, the idea that every run changes you couldn’t be more accurate, which is why Paige and I are taking on the challenge: to run 100 miles in the month of March.

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We’ve started simple, with four mile intervals which would put us well beyond our goal if we run every day. But that’s where taking on the task is much larger than just a run. Like the quote above, every run changes you. Yes, fitness and health are great motivators, but the consistency and dedication that are necessary to reach 100 miles in that time provide the groundwork for the change that all distance running instills.

Who knows what our next race will be, there are options all over the city year-round, and stepping outside the comfort of runDisney might not be a terrible thing. But I guess we’ll see where the challenge goes, and before you know it, we’ll have 100 miles down and we’ll be working on the next goal.

If you want to connect with us, and others participating, connect on Twitter with #FFMarchMiles led by FitFluential.

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Connected Runners: Basno Digital Medals

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“Why do you run?”

That question alone is a pet peeve that nearly every runner faces on a constant basis. There are runners all over the world, from occasional joggers to elite runners that can run five minute miles for incredible distances, but the one thing they all have in common is the simple fact that they get out and do it; regardless of reason.

For many though, whether running is therapeutic or just another step toward a healthier lifestyle, there is little more that is as satisfying as a finisher’s medal at the end of the race that you trained months for. Despite blisters and lost toenails, heatstroke and hypothermia, the feeling you get as the medal is placed around your neck is unmatched.

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Unfortunately, the moment is typically short lived when it comes to sharing with friends and family. Newsfeeds fill with pictures of lunches and vacations, and within a day or two the moment disappears and the evidence of accomplishment is tucked away in a forgotten album labeled “Big Race ’13” or simply “Running.”

Luckily for the connected runners out there, Basno has developed race badges to harness the spirit of running and to share the passion for the sport that every runner has.

With digital personalization, times and names can be added to the finishing badge that every runner receives, offering a new way to connect the community and invite others in. Being in the midst of an emphasis on social engagement, the badges make it easier for runners to share their experiences and curate an online showcase of their accomplishments.

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Personally, I’m excited about the ability to store my accomplishments digitally in one place, especially considering that now just two months into 2014, I’ve already got seven finisher medals and no good way to display them online.

Ultimately, the running community is a strong one; a massive group of people that love being active and inviting outsiders to join them. In the digital world, I’m not sure what more could be done to bring such an offline community online than a way to join peers in accomplishments that nobody outside the community could ever understand.

So to answer the question of why we run, it’s because we’re runners. It’s what we do.

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Communities: They’re For Everyone

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Community.

To many people, that doesn’t mean a whole lot. Thanks to social media and “community-building” platforms, community is just a digital age buzzword for the people you’re reaching; ultimately in an attempt to make you and your company a little bit more money.

In a more classic sense though, and probably what our parents would agree a community is and should be, it’s a group of like-minded people focused on the common good for that group. If that’s what you accept a community to be, then you can see why every marketing pro jumps on the concept, especially in the everyone-gets-a-trophy society that we’ve created and come to accept.

It’s a brilliant strategy, but what I want to encourage you to do is to find a community that you can share your life with, without the profitable encouragement of an outside company.

I thought about it, ironically browsing “gymspiration” and “fitspiration” tags on Tumblr and Pinterest Pinboards, but as you search for solitude in this ever-connected world you have a beautiful plethora of options.

Considering my past, I thought about the two most physical aspects of my life and how the communities surrounding them is open to everyone.

The first is backpacking. Finding yourself as you search the backcountry for meaning to the things in your life is one of the most solitary things you can do. Days can be spent seeing nobody, miles of wondering and wandering without the distraction of your newsfeed or push notifications.

On the other hand though, the backpacking community is a gnarled and humble group of people, welcoming to every skill level from pro athletes to children exploring the woods.

The second community I feel closest to is that of the runners. Am I competitive? No. Will the strangers along the race route cheer you on like a champion? Absolutely.

The running community is a family, strangers share tips and tricks for getting in shape, taking care of your body, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle; all the while patting you on the back just for putting on your shoes. Like any family, there are bad apples, those people that turn their noses up at slow runners, or distance runners that pretend to be “too good” for something like a 5K. Hell, I’ve been that guy before, but in the end everyone watches out for each other, full of encouragement and always there, even if you’ve secluded yourself to your headphones and a pace found in your active state of alone-ness.

What I’m trying to say is, it’s easy to write off being a part of something because everyone says you need to be involved, but there are plenty of options that are perfect fits for you. Even the most solitary and secluded person can find a place of comfort among the runners and backpackers of the world, enhancing their individualism while they slowly strengthen their bonds with others doing the exact same thing.

In the digital age, communities are jaded, maybe even tainted, but at the core they’re what everyone needs.