Why River?

Dear River,

I recently viewed a documentary about three men who traveled to Iceland to kayak over waterfalls. They conquered angry rapids, shattered multiple limbs, and generally kicked a tremendous amount of ass. It was awesome.

It also tugged my heart.

As I watched, I compared my life to theirs. I first marveled at the realities of an untethered life. Then, I immediately fought the urge to jump into my Delorean and deliver a manly, open-handed slap to my 20-year-old self. “Go live,” I would tell him, “Put down the controller and go kayak over a waterfall in Iceland you fool!”

A deep part of me lived through that Icelandic backcountry adventure unfolding before my eyes.

Which leads me to you.

I am often asked why we named you ‘River.’ It’s a good question, and one that I wasn’t able to articulate until this letter.


Your name popped into our minds late one night. It sat in my heart with the weight of an anvil. I couldn’t shake it. I loved it. There was never any doubt that this would be your name.

Your name has something to do with those waterfall kayaking titans. ‘River’ hearkens the wild and untamed. Sweetie, you are five weeks old and already you fill our lives with adventure. I love you and admire you for this. As your father, I want you to never stop pursuing adventure.

A river also bends the landscape to its will. Carve the landscape of your life my little girl. Cut your path with purpose. You have deep strength and a loud cry. You fix your gaze with unparalleled intensity and deftly escape your mother’s expert swaddles. I am afraid there is no corralling you. There is only guiding you and shaping you.

Finally, a river can be both perilous and life-giving. Will you be a force who brings life and flourishing?

Whatever valley you forge, whatever path you cut, know that I will be there. I am here to share in your adventures my little River. I just might take you on a few of my own as well.

Love Dad.



  1. Love when there is a personal connection to a child’s name like that. I have a Reed–another nature name–strong, but flexible. I still love it, seven years later.

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