Once the first flush of interest was over I asked one of the kayakers whether his sport was good for his moral character. He acted as if nobody had ever asked him that before.
It isn't as silly as it sounds: hobbies, activities, and sports all have philosophical implications. Looked at in this light, whitewater kayaking is all about getting 'a thrill a minute', that is, risk and excitement for the sake of themselves.
So how does one become addicted to the drug of excitement and go home and deal with the drudgery that is inevitable in normal living?
What would these river wild men around me think if they sat down and read Bertrand Russell's "The Conquest of Happiness"? Especially the chapter on "Boredom and Excitement."
A person accustomed to too much excitement is like a person with a morbid craving for pepper, who comes at last to be unable even to taste a quantity of pepper which would cause anyone else to choke. There is an element of boredom which is inseparable from the avoidance of too much excitement, and too much excitement not only undermines the health, but dulls the palate for every kind of pleasure, substituting titillations for profound organic satisfactions, cleverness for wisdom, and jagged surprises for beauty. I do not want to push to extremes the objection to excitement...And indeed, neither do I. What would be the sport that has the opposite characteristics of kayaking? Hiking, which has no excitement whatsoever. Naturally it is popular with women.
The whole issue of outdoor excitement shows that I am married to Aristotle's doctrine of the Golden Mean, as boring at this doctrine is to the young.
|It might not be exciting, Pops, but it's delightful.|