It was getting dark when I hit the first riffle of my trip down Utah’s Green River in a canoe. My plan was to set out while it was cool and log some mileage before nightfall, but dusk came on quicker than I thought. Because I’d been in a rush to launch, my gear wasn’t tied down very well. I had trouble reading the water in the fading light, hit some shoals, and barely came out upright. Shaking, I pulled over to camp on a scruffy pile of gravel near the highway for a night of bad sleep and excoriating self-recrimination.
It all seemed a fitting metaphor for the way I’d been hurtling through life. In the previous two years, I’d written a book, recorded a dozen podcast episodes, zombie-marched through a 14-city book tour, gotten sick a few times, and missed more of my kids’ dance recitals and cross-country meets than I care to remember. Hoping for recovery and insight, I’d embarked on an ambitious vacation: a 120-mile solo paddle with a tight deadline for a resupply and another tight deadline for a water taxi to pick me up at the end. A vacation with deadlines! The insight, at least, was becoming obvious: what I really needed was to slow down.
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