Paddle Your Own Canoe (or Whatever): A Book Review

paddle-your-own-canoe.jpgI couldn’t put Nick Offerman’s book down: Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man’s Fundamentals for Delicious Living.  I love books that give me a sneak peak into the lives of others – especially those lives that there is no way I could live.  There is no way I could ever experience what Nick has…between the acting, woodworking and growing up in Minooka.  Since there are so many aspects to this book – all of which I could write separate posts, I’ll keep it to a paragraph each.

Warning:  While I won’t use Nick’s language here, I do not recommend this book to anyone who can’t handle any criticism (real or implied) towards Christianity, profanity (especially a lot of profanity), or sexual references (I learned quite a bit of language I hadn’t know before – yep, I’m a “good girl”).  If you are willing to live with all that, then read the book.  Oh, also, don’t read it if you are younger than 28, even 30, you just won’t get it (even if you think you do!).  Finally, this is a book written by Nick Offerman – not a character on T.V.

Why Did I read this???  Minooka! Why did I pick up this book when it is so far a departure from the “spiritual” books or novels I normally read?  Well, you know that town, Minooka, Illinois, near Channahon?  And the farming community Offerman describes?  I married into that community.  My husband was born and grew up in Minooka (less than a decade behind Nick) – going to the same St. Mary’s church, attending the same schools, and having that particular farming culture imprinted into his life.  The first few chapters of Paddle Your Own Canoe is a window into my husband’s youth – and into his family.  I loved reading about Nick’s family and others in the town – many whom I have either met or have heard numerous stories about – only deepened the impressions I already had.  In particular I loved his “conversation” with the wonderfully gifted and welcoming Father Mark (pg 29-32), who joined my family’s pastor in blessing my marriage to another son of the Minooka farm community.  (When my husband – also Nick – read it, he couldn’t stop laughing!  And no, Sister Gesuina (pg 23-24) did not bring those particular magazines to my Nick’s confirmation retreat.)

Family, Marriage, Friendship and Mentors:  This book is a testimony to the connections with have with others – how even the seemingly passing relationship can make a huge impact.  Embrace the people in your life who embrace who you are and challenge you to be your true self.  Be open to every new acquaintance as potentially being a blessing who will change your life (or you will be a blessing to them – or both).  And if you are blessed to meet someone who is a perfect match for you – don’t hesitate!  (Nick and my Nick have something in common with this…perhaps it’s the Minooka water.)

Callings:  We are all gifted for something – and this giftedness may show itself in the oddest ways.  Don’t let someone else try to change you, rather live into the person God created you to be – even if it means doing something completely different than what others are used to.

Do something worthy of breathing:  Offerman puts it a bit differently, but basically, don’t waste this amazing gift you have of living.  Don’t move through life on automatic, doing what others think you should do, or what is easiest…but rather do something!  Create something!  Add to the amazing world as co-creators with God!

A quick note on Offerman’s comments on Christianity:  These are his honest ideas, opinions, and sentiments.  I’ve read plenty of negative reviews of the book based on the perceived criticisms of the Christian faith, but also many that agree with him.  I wonder if instead of judging or dismissing him (and by extension all others who feel the same way), why not look into what he is saying and take from it the positive (Hey! without his participation in Christian worship he might have never become Ron Swanson! – okay, I don’t watch Parks & Rec…)  As well, why not see this as a great opportunity to reflect on how the church should interact with those who have been raised in the faith (either Catholic, Born Again, or otherwise), and have left.  What could be done differently to get the Word across effectively, instead of missing its mark???

While you may not fully agree with Offerman on what makes a delicious life, I pray that you discover and live amazingly!

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About SFriant

A mom and wife trying to live deliberately and spiritually in a crazy world.
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