Magical Reality

Thousands of years ago people crossed the Pacific Ocean in small boats. Paddling vessels the size of the touring kayaks we know today, ancient humans traveled from Asia to North America. “We know they did it. We’ve found their bones,” said Jon Turk, Author of the book The Raven’s Gift. “But why?”

At the Banff Mountain Book and Film Festival writers, photographers and adventurers of all kinds ask themselves this same question. In one of many discussion sessions on exploration Turk shared one of the principle questions in his book, the story of a kayak expedition across the Pacific Rim to find the answer Why do otherwise pragmatic people leave the safety and comfort of their homes and families to venture out into the unknown and likely hostile regions of the world?

“I believe people go out on purpose to become vulnerable, to open themselves up to reality and find magic,” Turk said. “I believe they’re going into dream time.”

What could be more real than ascending a 3,000-foot granite wall without a rope? Or soaring through jagged canyons riding currents of air and the pull of gravity in a wing-suit? Or carving snowboard turns that sweep across a vast field of snow while chased by a raging avalanche. The images, the stories we see and hear at Banff tug at our spirit of adventure. We are encouraged, engaged and entertained, to coin a phrase from the artist Jeremy Collins, to explore that which makes us vulnerable to the point of a paralyzing fear. But when the risk of death is so real we cannot help but ask ourselves, why?

According to Turk and I’m inclined to agree, there’s magic in the pursuit of our dreams. We put everything we love most in the world on the line to see if only for a moment that life has more to offer. Past the safe security of home, beyond the horizon of our distant vision is something we cannot yet know. But as we purposely make ourselves vulnerable and face reality something happens. At Banff, through film, art and literature a door opens and we enter into a world of our dreams, a world of Adventure.

Coverage of the 2010 Banff Mountain Film Festival is made possible through the generous support of sponsor Patagonia.

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I’m a freelance journalist that specializes in telling stories about outdoor recreation, environmental conservation, acts of charitable giving and practices of sustainable living.