What do they mean? How did they come up with them?
People often ask Bob about his logo; what it stands for and how he came up with the design. We like to joke around that the BF in his logo stands for the back face of a paddle or the bow/front of a boat. That waystudents can put their BF decal on their blade or canoe to help remind them which blade face to use in a stroke or which way to sit when paddling. But as you have probably already guessed it actually stands for the initials of his name. When designing his logo he chose an Oriental looking script. He wanted his logo not only to represent his name, but also to reflect his philosophy about paddling and teaching (and life in general) and the presence of Zen in all of them.
Zen and Paddling
To watch Bob paddle whitewater is like watching a bird in flight. His keen eyes notice and appreciate the water and how it works. His body, blade, and canoe move as one, as he attunes himself to the flow and pulse of the river. He calmly and assuredly positions himself to allow the water to help him move where he wants to go. He glides his canoe down into a trough and then soars off the peak of the next wave. He’s in flight; relaxed, effortless and free.
For most people, just the sound of a Grand Canyon rapid is enough to get their heart rate up and to create an apprehensive feeling in their bellies, let alone paddling it. For Bob, it’s just the opposite; he goes down there to relax. What’s his secret? How does he perform and stay so relaxed, yet focused amidst the chaos? The Japanese refer to it as Mushin, which literally means ‘no-mind.’ It’s when you are fully present in the moment and performing with unconscious awareness; you just act or go with the flow – Zen.
Zen and Learning & Teaching
How do you achieve this Mushin? It is definitely not for those who want fast food learning and results. There are no shortcuts, no time limits. It comes from good instruction and guidance, plus a lot of dedication, patience, and practice. Perfect practice,that is, until you can do it without conscious effort. Only then does your reaction become automatic.
Bob regularly tells his students “it’s the journey, not the destination.” Unfortunately, students all too often get so caught up in reaching their destination that they sacrifice the quality of the journey. For example, in whitewater classes he frequently has students work on attainment drills (paddling upstream). It’s not uncommon to see the students hack their way up the river. Sure, they reached their destination, but their journey stunk. What should have been a four stroke move (“low energy, high precision”) if they had used good technique and river reading skills, turned into a 12 stroke move (“high energy, low precision”). Bob encourages students to stay in the moment, pay attention to the quality of each step and stroke they do, and become less wrapped up in the destination. If they can do this, then over time they too can soar over waves.
“Only those who have the patience to do simple things perfectly, ever acquire the skill to do difficult things easily.” – Johnann C. Schiller
Introducing Karen’s New Logo
As mentioned above, people frequently ask Bob about his logo (what it stands for and how he came up with the design). After seeing it they then usually turn to me and ask why I don’t have one. It’s not because I had not thought about it or put any effort into it. I just couldn’t find anything that exemplified me, what I do, what I believe…..that is until this past summer. One day, while doing some research on the internet, I came across an ancient Chinese symbol signifying water. Right away, when I saw it, I knew it would be perfect as my logo. After reading the text down below, hopefully you’ll have a better understanding why.
The Evolution and Reasons Behind the Logo
I was born in the 1960’s in the deep heart of the south. My parents, like most parents, pondered over what to name me for quite sometime. After much deliberation they settled on the name Wendy Knight; that is until they realized I could become a target for teasing with such a name- (i.e.) “It happened on a windy night.” So to avoid such a fate they decided upon the name Karen Kimberly Knight instead.
It wasn’t until I was a year or so old that my parents become aware of what they had done. In an attempt to rescue me from the teasing, they had unintentionally given me a name with the initials KKK. Not the best initials to have, especially living in Alabama in the 60’s.
As a little girl I thought my name was beautiful. When I was about seven years old, my family and I went to a holiday parade in Montgomery, Alabama. Marching in the parade were the usual floats, marching bands, clowns, etc. However, there was one group of marchers that seemed to stand apart in the otherwise festive atmosphere. For reasons I couldn’t comprehend at the time, this group frightened me. As they passed, I turned to my mom and asked who these scary people were. She replied that they were the KKK – the Ku Klux Klan. She later went on to explain some of their beliefs and actions.
That incident opened my eyes to discrimination. I was sickened to learn that my beautiful name shared the same initials with an organization that did such ugly things to fellow human beings. From that point on I vowed I would personify the opposite of what the Ku Klux Klan represents. Where they view people different than themselves with antipathy, bigotry and belligerent behavior, I would view and treat them with compassion, open-mindedness, and respect.
With the initials KKK monogramming was never really an option for me for obvious reasons. Nor when considering a logo, did I feel comfortable having one similar to my partner Bob Foote’s because of my initials. But the Chinese water symbol seems like a good fit in so many ways. For starters, it looks like my initials – the letter K (at least part of it). Two, water is the source of life, the source of my love of paddling, and the source of my livelihood – teaching others how to canoe and kayak. Finally, water comes in many forms: rivers, ponds, lakes, oceans, etc. But no matter what form it takes on, it is still water. Just like my belief about people. While we too may come in different forms, have diverse religious views and ethnic backgrounds, etc. we are still all human beings. Everything has its origin in and from water. It’s the common thread that binds us.