Travel blogs often focus on highlights, positive events, even "mountaintop" experiences. This river journey, like life, has had its share of pain. In the early days near the headwaters in northern Minnesota, as I paddled in cold, driving rain I often was tempted to "pack it in." This was not fun. I was so cold that I didn't realize I had torn a muscle in my calf and damaged my pinkie causing the nail to eventually fall off.
My hands were so sore it was hard to grip the paddle and impossible to peck out blog updates on my smartphone. A wrist which I had broken years earlier and has an inserted plate, throbbed during the nite. I lost 15 pounds in the first three weeks. After paddling for 10 hours a day my back ached. Oddly, my arms have rarely been tired. Then there is the mental pain of loneliness and boredom. In sum, it has been a much more difficult and painful experience than I ever imagined.
Certainly suffering and pain can be destructive and debilitating. That is particularly true when it's thrust on us and isn't of our choosing. But it can also make us stronger and more confident when we embrace suffering. You know the phrases, "No gain, no pain!" or "The truest steel passes through the fire." and ultimately, "There is no Easter without Good Friday." Suffering becomes redemptive when it leads to "humble boldness."