Can’t See The Water For The Trees

water trees Last night I had a dream / You were in it, I was in it with you
Everyone that I knew /And everyone that you know was in my dream
I saw a vampire / I saw a ghost
Everybody scared me but you sacred me the most
– randy numan

 I’ve spent a lot of time writing about products over the years. I’ll do it again. Still to be honest, I must be getting old.. or maybe I’m just drowning in the product placement seas. When browsing the blogs, Facebook and the rest of the social media universe I have to admit I’m getting a little burned out on the newest and latest thing.  I mean, can’t we just go paddling?  

I was thinking about this yesterday while having a conversation about a new product review I was asked to do.  I’m happy to do it and look forward to the project actually.  Yet at the same time I couldn’t help but wonder what good my opinion was going to do in a world filled with paddlers putting on their paddling medicine show?  Just another voice in a rather over crowed room if you ask me.  In fact, that’s much of the reason I dropped off the charts here.  In the small circle of sea kayakers that exists out there, we all know each other. We all know the games and process. Some of us play it, some don’t. Personally I’ve always tried to walk the high-wire between keeping some sense of integrity while still creating interesting content now and again. Reviews and product news fill space and certainly can help new paddlers.. but as I’ve said many times in the past, its way to easy to get wrapped up in “expert game” these days.

These days, I prefer to coach and frankly just get out there and paddle.  A ratty old kayak is much better than a $4000.00 boat in the garage. An old wooden paddle used extensively is more valuable than an ultra light graphite scimitar wrapped in a cushioned bag. A word of encouragement is more useful than a product review or a lecture. Listen, it’s all good stuff. I want to know what’s new and I want to learn new skills, but by matter of priority it’s “first things first.” When it comes to paddling, the first thing, the most important element is just encouraging folks to try it.  To get out there and appreciate the universe they live in. Maybe the real product innovations we need these days are not bigger, better, faster, stronger, etc., but things that simply make someone new decide to get outside in the first place.  If we don’t get people out there, then all this space spent on product reviews isn’t going to mean a damn thing. There’ll be no one around to buy them.

Now before someone gets their neo in a bundle thinking I’m being all hypocritical I get that. I’m more or less, “Thinking-out-loud”.  I don’t think I’m saying that there is anything wrong with reviewing products, etc., I do it, and will continue to as I said. But my gut is telling me that we may be spending too much time in the fishbowl when there are some drastic cultural changes going on on the other side of the glass.  For my part, I think the single most important priority these days has to be simply helping folks find reasons to get outside.  It’s a tough nut to crack and one I think all of our great bloggers, publishers, marketers and industry leaders should be putting to the forefront.  If not, there will be nothing left in 20 years but a few old geezers standing on the beach wondering where all the paddlers have gone…

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