Turning Every Equipment into Knowledge

Very intriguing title. And I recognized the author’s name. I just had to pick this up.

Turned out to be a collection of short writings by Naoki Ishikawa, author of Last Adventurer. I enjoyed this book as much as the last one.

I once heard that, in order to tell a great story, you must live a great life. This statement is certainly true for Naoki Ishikawa. He does have remarkable life. (There is a reason why some people have to tell you that same old boring story in every single occasion.)

The title was taken from conversation with Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia’s founder.

Ultimately, adventure should be done without any external help. If someone starts ice climbing, he will first use all equipments he can find. Maybe start with double ice axes. That shouldn’t be too hard. As he gains more experiences, he may be able to climb with only one ice ax. If you are a Zen master, you might be able to climb in a sitting posture! It is a kind of path we follow. For me, ultimate form is solo climbing without any equipments. No chalk, no climbing shoes, no guide book, nothing. Climbing naked would be perfect. Just like ancient sailing technique you are studying, turning every equipments into knowledge. I completely believe that should be the final goal.

I realized how these guys are living “backwards.”

We all seek efficiency. We all use equipments and technologies to help live our daily lives easier. We write less, but type more. We observe less, but take more pictures. We walk less, but drive more.

There is nothing wrong with this, but maybe we should note that we are giving up something in place of efficiency.

According to Ishikawa, an experienced canoe navigator in Micronesia can tell own position and direction, by studying the way canoe rocks in water and the sound of water splashing against canoe’s body. Recently more motor boats are coming into Micronesia islands for more efficient fishing. It’s all good for easier lives, but not surprisingly, ancient navigating knowledges will probably go into a decline. How can navigators tell position when all they can hear is motor sounds?

I am going to remember this short canoe story as metaphor…

Convenience is nice thing, but sometimes we overdo it.


石川 直樹
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