I thoroughly enjoyed the paddling trip with the Greenville Canoe/Kayak Meetup. However, it just wasn’t the same as paddling with some of my informal group of friends, or even with Lowcountry Unfiltered. Don’t get me wrong. This was a great group of people, and I loved meeting them. When we hit the river, it was obvious that every one of them was thrilled to be back on the water. However, there was something missing, and I think I’ve discovered what that is. We were missing a common lore – a shared set of experiences. Given the nature of this group, I’m not sure that a common lore is even possible.
It’s one of those obvious things everybody knows. Shared adventures promote closer friendships. But here are four things I’ve noticed…
1. Lore cannot be imported.
It must originate with the group. You can talk about your own experiences as a way of establishing commonality or “street cred”, but don’t expect a new group to accept your previous tall tales or adventures with any other groups. Too many individual tall tales will come off as bragging.
2. Lore can be adopted.
Even if you’re new to a group, you can accept the established group lore. Phrases like, “…aren’t you the one who…?” help with that adoption process. With luck, a newbie can even contribute to the group’s lore. Oddly enough, even a newer member of a group might become part of previous lore. However, it still has to be part of the group’s common experience (see number 1).
3. Lore is not truth.
Yeah, the events actually took place, but as is the nature of tall tales, the details get a bit fuzzy. Who was involved and how big the actual adventure happened to be tend to expand with time. This makes number 2 above possible. Lore is not the truth, the whole, truth, and nothing but the truth – but that’s not really important.
4. Lore can be diffused.
If a group gets too large and diverse, or its membership too transient, then the tall tales can be lost to time. In an interesting twist, observation number 1 above comes into play with the group itself as a large number of new people are not really interested in the tales of a core group. I think this is the problem with the Greenville Canoe/Kayak Meetup. There were five first-timers with the group on Saturday’s trip. One of the members said that their last Biltmore paddle had nearly 30 boats. There are 262 names listed on their roll. That’s a bit too much.
With a group that large a certain formality has to come in just to keep things organized. Adventure tends to be anathema to organization. Therefore, the opportunities to develop tall tales just aren’t there.
The Greenville paddling group loved to be on the water just as much as the Lowcountry group. But, they seemed to be more interested in getting from put-in to take-out. Admire the scenery along the way, but don’t take too long. Lowcountry Unfiltered, on the other hand, will leave no channel unexplored, and no rope swing untested.
Personally, I prefer adventure. I like the Greenville group, and will continue to paddle with them when they have trips planned that I just can’t get to otherwise. However, my first choice will always be with those that have shared my adventures.