I’m paddling a kayak in Hawaii, listening to my guide tell an adventure story. He was out spear fishing in the ocean when a big fish swallowed the fish he’d just caught. The fish then dove, hard, dragging him down with it. But he wasn’t gonna surrender his catch. Not a chance. He barely got back to the surface before almost passing out from a lack of oxygen.
This guy grew up back in the lower 48 and is probably in his late twenties. He reminds me of myself twenty years ago–restless, energetic, pre-gut, bouncing from one adventure to another. He’s a bit more amped up than I was, but he’s not as agro and crazy as the guy who floated on a surfboard in the Arctic, waiting for an iceberg to calve so he could surf the resulting wave.
No, my guide knows to take a break here and there. Hence the job guiding middle-agers up a gentle jungle river.
We drop the kayaks at the head of the river and head off on a trail to see a waterfall. One mile in the guide points to a small stream where water cascades off a small ledge, dropping maybe six feet. He grins at our small group and says “Okay, here’s the waterfall. Oh, did I say 120 feet? I meant inches.”
That’s exactly the kind of line I’d have used at the resort twenty years ago.
We hike some more down the muddy, root-filled trail. My footwear is totally inappropriate and my toes are killing me. We stop by a rock wall and the guide asks “Does anyone know what the original Hawaiians ate?”
I raise my hand and say “Other Hawaiians?”
This is what passes for adventure-seeking in middle age. And it totally works for me.