Aug 29 2017

The End Is Where We Start From by Tamia Nelson and Farwell Forrest

Tamia and Farwell have taken a few Big Trips in their day, but none compares to their Big Trip with (as it then was). It lasted 18 years, and it’s only now drawing to a close. Of course, no Big Trip goes on forever, and as a bank clerk turned poet once wrote, “to make an end is to make a beginning.”

Most canoeists and kayakers yearn to take a Big Trip. The details don’t matter all that much. Where, when, how — these are incidentals. There’s a new horizon on view at every point of the compass, and once you’ve made the decision to set off, one day (or one year) is as good as another. What does matter, then? That’s easy: the desire to lose oneself in the journey, “to seek,” in the words that Tennyson put in Ulysses’ mouth, “a newer world,” to see new things (or see old things in a new light), and “to sail,” literally or figuratively, “beyond the sunset.” Yet, as Ulysses knew very well, all Big Trips must end sooner or later. Sometimes the end is just that, the end. More often, though, it’s a beginning. As T. S. Eliot observed, “The end is where we start from.” And that’s where we find ourselves now.

For 18 years, In the Same Boat has been a weekly feature on these virtual pages. But nothing lasts forever, and this is our last column for Make no mistake: It’s been a very Big Trip. Eighteen years can see a toddler grow to maturity. Or a white ash rise from a struggling sapling to a towering tree. It’s even enough time for an ordinary malt to mellow in cask and be transformed into an heirloom whisky. In our case, though, the span of years has been marked by something much less tangible: an outpouring of words — more than two million, in fact.

This wasn’t in the cards back in 1999, when we wrote our first column for what was then We had no idea that In the Same Boat‘s Big Trip would last so long. Indeed, we stopped writing the column at the end of our first year, thinking that was that, only to be invited to return to in the following spring. But we never dreamed we’d still be writing weekly columns well into the second decade of the new century. Of course, this wasn’t down to us. Without the support — and, yes, the encouragement — of Brent and Brian,’s founding partners, In the Same Boat would have remained eternally landlocked. They gave us the freedom to write as we pleased, about whatever we pleased. And the check was always in the mail. (Writers will appreciate how rare these two things are.)

As important as Brent and Brian were in keeping us at our keyboards, however, our greatest debt is to you, our readers. Your e‑mails — thousands of them — have filled in‑boxes on four (or is it five?) generations of computers, and they’ve made starting each day of the past 18 years a journey of discovery. You’ve set us straight when we got something wrong, showed us better ways to do things, shared photos of your boats, invited us to stop by if we ever found ourselves in the neighborhood, and given us countless ideas for new articles. It’s largely your doing that not once in all 18 years did either of us face a deadline without knowing exactly what we’d be writing about.

Now the Big Trip that began in 1999 is over. But another lies in the offing. After all, “to make an end is to make a beginning” — Eliot, again — and we’re not about to scuttle In the Same Boat. We’re just shifting her moorings. We’ll be taking a break from writing a weekly column for a month or two while we finish work on a couple of books. Then In the Same Boat will embark on her next Big Trip, and as the time approaches for her to set out, we’ll post the coordinates of her new berth here at Tamia Nelson’s Outside. It goes without saying that we hope to have the pleasure of your company when she casts off.

In the Same Boat

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