Happy Fathers’ Day! This week I travelled from Baffin Island to Juneau, Alaska, where I am writing this post. On the way I spent a couple of days with my family, seeing two of my three brothers and catching up with my sister, too. My brothers are great dads and I enjoyed visiting with their growing families. We talked a lot about the upcoming summer, and a lot about our Dad, Jim.
Let me tell you a bit about him. My Dad is a supercool explorer. His skills include: navigating by the stars, flying vintage aircraft (yup, exactly like the ones featured in Ice Pilots), evaluating sea ice by air in the high Arctic to determine suitability for landing, playing six games of chess simultaneously on his iPad with various, curated opponents from his treks around the world, scuba diving (a recently acquired skill), oh – and he can waterski on one leg while holding the other ski over his head. I’ll try to dig up the picture of this last item next week for any doubters. There are a few things he is not very good at, but it is Father’s Day and the list would be short in any case.
So if I want to do anything cool, or adventurous, chances are, papa has already done it. North Pole – check. South Pole – check. Flying floatplanes – check. Trading a parka for a Soviet fur hat at a Siberian research station – check. Delivering an aircraft for the United Nations to Nepal via Iceland – check. Scuba diving – check. Sailing around the world – *check. (* In process.) Currently, he is in New Zealand, living on his sailboat with my lovely step-mom Isabel. They sailed there from Hawaii this winter past.
You’ll have to forgive me, then, if I take just a little, teensy-weensy bit of pleasure from the fact I am going to do something that my Dad has NOT already done – yet. I certainly wouldn’t have nominated myself for the “Most Likely to Sail the Northwest Passage” category in the Cool Life Achievements awards. And I haven’t done it yet – but it is a pretty bad-ass goal to have. I am delighted to join Jesse in the pursuit of his goal, and I confess to enjoying in a very un-modest way the notoriety and cool factor that comes along with such a rigorous pursuit.
But back to my father for a minute. Obviously, my Dad is a cool guy. But I think the coolest thing about him is that he strives to be a good person, and a good dad, and not just a guy that does cool things all the time. I used to say that if I told my folks that I was selling all my worldly possessions and moving to Africa to work at an elephant nursery, their reply would be: “Right on! We love you.” Growing up, I took this this “go-for-it” attitude toward unorthodox life decisions for granted, and only now do I realize how unusual this unconditional support is.
When I told my Dad about my plans to marry Jesse, sail the Northwest Passage and move to Alaska, he said “Awesome. I love you.” Then he wanted to know how big Jesse’s boat was.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I love you.