Sometimes, its not the depth of the water, or even the speed of the current that is scary. Its the fact that we can’t see to the bottom, don’t know what lurks beneath, what lies just under the surface waiting for us.
Seeing the ones we count on to be “all knowing” slip and fall is scary. So scary that it can create a panic that is overwhelming, long after our hero has risen up laughing.
When the water is moving fast it is easy to enjoy the ride, easy to whoop and cry out and scream and recover. The parts when we are just drifting can be hardest, most fearful, most excruciating.
It always helps if someone is willing to float along side us and hold our hand. We can breathe easier and look toward the sky knowing that we are not alone.
It also always helps to keep the people who have traveled this river before in our sights. They are just a little ways ahead and while we cannot be sure the current, the wind or anything will be the same when we get to where they are, knowing that they have been there and are OK is comforting.
The hardest thing to do is NOT to give up, and to stay, floating, letting the river take us where it may. We can be faced with an overwhelming intense desire to stand up, throw our tube over our shoulder and walk to shore but actually, the walk to the shore is treacherous and slimy, the shore is full of brambles and branches and prickly things. Even though its scary, its far easier to float. The resistance is always harder.
At the end, there is tremendous reward for staying in our “discomfort zone” and not fleeing to the safer, smaller space. Not only do we arrive at the way-station, fine but often having grown an inch taller, more confident and full of joy. We can say that we have lived and that is always better than wishing we did.
For Max, the bravest boy I ever knew, who teaches me over and over again. I am so proud of you big boy for feeling the fear and riding the river any way. I can’t wait to go down it with you again.