Darren is an inspiration on so many levels. I enjoyed our conversation that wandered all over the map from his academic chops to his purchase of Rutabaga and other side trails along the way. My apologies for some of the sound issues but you won’t miss anything, enjoy.
First Exposure to the Outdoors
I was a boy scout, which got me outside, and with a lot of people don’t realize is there’s a lot of really nice outdoor space, not necessarily wilderness space, outdoor space in and around LA.
I actually didn’t paddle until I moved to Wisconsin just because the closest lake was the artificial lake in the development next to us. I mean, there really wasn’t any flat water. I came here and got roped into a boy scout trip to the boundary waters at that kind of started it.
Things we talked about
The Los Padres National Forest
I’m a big fan of Mike Rowe, right? cause he’s an ops guy. The idea of following your bliss and you know all that. Then you know, if you do what you love, the money will come and it’s just not true. It’s just not true.
It does happen. Um, and people have followed their dreams and they do succeed, but for every person who says I want to be an actor, there are 500 layers, right? Right. So you have to be a realist about it. So often the idea of owning an outdoor store or owning your own business or whatever, the idea of it is way better than the actual thing itself for a lot of people. I mean, it’s true for a lot of things, like the idea of owning a sports car is a really good idea until you have a sports car and you realize that it owns you don’t own it. So rent, rent a Porsche once a day every six months or two years or whatever and get your Porsche fix.
As far as growing your career, I don’t like the word career because that has the connotation of a trajectory where you go in as a customer service person and then you get promoted to head of customer service, then you might move into the sales and then sales manager and then you just kind of climbed corporate ladder. But I think that analogy is always felt kind of false to me. You know English is interesting. We have a bunch of words for work, right? We have work and we have labor, and vocation and all these things.
Labor is labor, effort goes into labor, and something comes out of it. If you’re in the trades your labor goes in and you get a building out of it. You have something to show at the end of the day. So your vocation is something that you feel called to do. My, my wife’s vocation was to teach math and specifically to teach math to middle school girls because that’s when they decide they can be smart or stupid. If she can get them through math in middle school, they’ll take it up in high school and that’ll give them a career path that will be unavailable to them if they decided, oh I’m stupid, I’m a girl, I can’t do that. Just what society tells them. Right. So she taught thousands of girls algebra and you know, if 10 percent of those people say, hey, I’m good at this, then we have 10 percent more opportunities for women to be scientists. So that is, that is her calling. My calling is to get people outside. Right now I’m using paddling as that mechanism. So when people say what do you do for a living? I tell them I create communities to get people outside. That’s my job, right? My job description is a paddling evangelist because that’s what I do. I spread it, spread the gospel of paddling the good word, and get people outside. That’s my vocation. So I guess my advice is if you don’t have a vocation, keep doing what you’re doing until you find one. Don’t quit your job and go off and climb a mountain to ask a guru what you should do with your life. In my case, it started off as a side hustle when I was a scientist. So just keep looking for your vocation and what calls to you and you never know what it’s going to be. I certainly didn’t.
Other Outdoor Activities
Shop Class as Soulcraft by Matthew Crawford
Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold
Encounters with the Archdruid by John Mcphee
Best Gear Purchase under $100
Connect with Darren