9.13.2004

My life is conventional....Eric Jackson's life is not!

A few years ago there was this really cute Nissan Pathfinder commercial where a father is driving his brand spanking new SUV as he drifts off into some fantasy about taking the kids out of school and racing across Africa in the Paris Dakar....I am sure you can visualzie the clip of the cute little boy in the child seat trying to eat his ice cream as he bounced about until his ice cream falls off the cone leaving him ice creamless except for what remains on his face. (The truck may well have not been a Nissan Pathfinder....that is the failure of advertising....some of it may entertain or annoy, but does it help to move product?) Well, Eric Jackson not only said almost exactly the same thing....but he chose to live it. Eric Jackson a world class kayaker is also a husband, a father of two, and a business man. Most recently Eric has started his own kayak company, Jackson Kayak.....and if these boats are anything like Eric they will make you SMILE and they will make you RIP!
(eric jackson can without a doubt inspire you)

Years ago I met Eric Jackson....the sport of kayaking was not where it is now. I was managing Big Wheel Bikes on Capitol Hill where Eric and a friend of his Brian opened a kayak store upstairs of the bike shop. Brian and Eric were on the river more than they were in the shop....needless to say the shop did not succeed, during this time Eric got this crazy idea of customizing an RV and touring the country and the world from river to river from event to event. Over the years I have run into Eric and his wife, usually when I am hiking the dogs on the Billy Goat Trail I have run into Eric and his family in their custom RV in the parking lot...I knock on the door he invites me in....I ask if he remembers me....he says yes...I marvel at his life....say hey to his kids.....say my good byes...and leave thinking to myself....WOW! THAT GUY IS REALLY COOL! THAT FAMILY IS REALLY COOL! WHAT AN EXOTIC LIFE!

I can not imagine that it has been easy. Sure it has been interesting, but certainly never easy. Unique would definitely describe their life. I remember seeing young Dane a few years ago, he must have been six years old....and already built with a body full of muscles just like his dad. Young Dane looked like he was more pit bull than boy with all those muscles on his stomach and chest. Well, it seems that this young pup is growing into being the big dog on the waves already competing on the junior circut all over the world. In an article of a new outdoor magazine, HOOKED, I read about Dane and his potential of being 'the future' of the sport!

As a father this intrigued me.....everyone I meet is always saying something about how I need to put a golf club in my sons' hands...or a tennis racket....or a basketball. I am not the father of Wayne Gretsky, nor am I the father of Tiger Woods, and I am certainly not the father of Dane Jackson! That is the path of those families and the path of those athletes. I like my conventional lifestyle. I am not sure of the path of Dean or Grant's lives. As far as pushing my sons to be the best? People need to get a little more rational scope on things. Life is long. there are many factors, genetic being one of them as well as the competition around them. It takes more than an over enthused soccer mom to create the next Mia Hamm. Am I trying to push Dean and Grant to be the best? Personal Best, sure, but the BEST?

Exposure. Dean and Grant are being exposed to a wide variety of interests. Both Dean and Grant were swimming for a few hours yesterday afternoon. Dean spent a good part of the day in the Burley Trailer being towed behind me on the bike. And the rest of the day was spent being a kid. When I set the two HOT WHEELS tracks up along side of each other for a little LOOP DA LOOP racing was I thinking NASCAR? Was I thinking ENGINEERING or ARCHETECTURE? No...I was thinking fun and smiles. When Dean and I spent hours playing with the FLICK TRICK bmx bikes was I thinking....he could be a good mechanic.....soon enough he will be fixing my bikes....well, maybe. But, the goals are more immediate. Life is cumulative. All these experiences add up. Hopefully they will guide Dean and Grant towards having some strong and specific interests. At which point I will make an effort to aid in nurturing these interests. But not in an effort to create the next Tiger Woods, but maybe my sons can learn the lessons of hard work and a job well done as well as the spirit of competition and the glory of victory and the emotions that come from trying your best. (often falling short of one's goals or finding that there is someone better, someone better prepared, or someone who had a better day)

The life choices of Eric Jackson are to be commended. The world would be a boring place if artists and athletes did not make the sacrifices that they make. Not everyone can be a desk jockey; nor is everyone is wired for such an unstructured lifestyle. There are aspects of their lives that I envy, but I do not wish to trade places. That is the life they have created for themselves while this is the life I have created for me.

Do I want my sons to be a world class surfers? If so, I better move to the beach.
Do I want my sons to be world class mountainbikers, skateboarders, snowboarders, soccer players, volleyball players, sprinters, marathoners, croquet players, basketball players, football players, lacrosse players?

It may happen.....but right now we are more concerned with getting Grant to sleep through the night than going to the 2020 OLYMPICS.

Until then we are city people doing out city thing...hopefully we will all be kayaking in the Potomac in the next few years....who knows maybe Dane Jackson will be my instructor? If so I will tell him that I remember him when......

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