A few weeks ago I checked white water rafting off my bucket list. My daughter Karen joined me in this much anticipated adventure. We headed up to Idaho Springs, Colorado, where she booked an “Aggressive Beginner” float. (We later found out that “Aggressive Beginner really means “Intermediate”... Yikes!) We were committed to the trip no matter what... even when we woke to a cloudy, light rainy morning. Even though we were both experienced canoers and Karen had been rafting several times, I felt this trip was special and I was very excited to experience my first time rafting with her.
As we drove into the parking lot, the sun began to shine. Decked out in our swimsuit, fleece (so grateful Karen suggested that!!), wetsuit, booties, gloves, and splash jackets, we walked to the rafts parked near the river. A no-nonsense, eccentric young river guide provided us with much needed safety instructions. I was hoping we would be assigned to his raft as he seemed most competent.
The water was very cold; 40 degrees. He told us if we flipped out of the raft, we were on our own and our number one goal would be to get out of the water before hypothermia set in. Don’t look for help. Get out any way we could.
We were assigned to Syd, a young woman who I immediately began to judge because she was not my first choice. I soon became aware of my thoughts, decided to surrender, and move beyond my initial expectation of the other guide. (Surrender is my Life Objective.) Syd ended up being extremely competent as well as fun!
Our raft consisted of Karen and me (the old fart), and two young couples. Only one young man in our group had experience with white water rafting. The first part of the trip would be calm so that Syd could evaluate our competence and see how well we listened to orders. After that, there would be three Level IV rapids, a pause and another Level IV followed by multiple Level IIIs.
We were a good group that followed Syd’s clear directions. Only one of the young women couldn’t quite get the hang of paddling in sync with the rest. The first two Level IVs went fairly smoothly and I was having a blast. Phoenix, the third Level IV proved to be more challenging. Several people in our raft flipped out including Karen and our guide, Syd. Because I listened to several friends who suggested I jam my feet under the seat in front of me, I did not flip out. Only three of us were left in the raft to manage Phoenix, the next third Level IV rapid was approaching very fast.
Fortunately, the other man in the raft was the one who had experience! He yelled, “Hard right” and I did the best I could, lurching over to the side of the raft to avoid a huge rock. Syd came up to my side & yelled, “Pull me in! Pull me in!”. Because I am such a good listener and jammed my feet so hard under the seat, I was stuck! I tried my best to pull her in from my stuck position, but realized I am no longer as strong as I once was. The experienced man shifted his position and was able to drag Syd into the raft, Unfortunately, all this flipping out and re-positioning sent the raft into a spin in the middle of the river.
When I regained my senses after all the commotion, I found myself facing backwards, feet still stuck under the other seat. Finally, I yanked my feet out, turned around, and assisted the others in getting the raft to face down river. As we pulled over to the side to join the other rafts, Karen was there. During the excitement, I remembered seeing Karen make her way to the shore, so I knew she was okay.
One of the rafts was going to abandon the trip due to the unpredictable river flow. Those that had flipped out, climbed back into our raft including Karen. She was not frightened, only stunned. Even though she dislocated her shoulder when she was tumbling in the water, Karen popped it back in once she was back on shore. She hopped in another raft that went by, and met us down the river.
After everyone was settled, I immediately held a session of relaxing our muscles because I could tell one man was shivering and experiencing hypothermia. We continued down the river with no more incidents. I’d have to say it was a perfect trip in my book. No one was injured or died. I didn’t fall in. And I discovered multiple things about myself.
First, I am not afraid to die. All of the studying and deconstruction of the mental constructs about death I had formed over the years have been released. I don’t want to experience pain, but I am not afraid of death. I truly believe the Soul is here for learning & discovering new ways to Be. And I am creating my Reality. All events are neutral.
Second, Karen is separate from me in this reality, but at the Soul level she is also a part of me & I am part of her. As I was roaring down the river (they closed it two days after our ride!), I felt only Joy & happiness. There was no fear for her-only joy within me with the present moment. All relationships are equal.
Third, I am always in choice. I could have chosen to opt out of the trip after seeing the weather. I could have abandoned the trip and left with the raft that pulled out, not making it to the end. I could have continued down the river as I did, and finish with the rest. I could have not spoken up when the young man who had fallen out started going into serious hypothermia. I chose not to be scared and had fun. I am always in choice. (BTW-if you couldn’t tell, I had an amazing time!! It was FUN!)
Since this experience, I have done much self-reflection and self-inquiry. Where am I in this Life Spiral? How do I want to Be? Where am I being authentic and where do I have room for improvement? Judging our raft guide, Syd, before experiencing her abilities was a huge lesson for me. Just when I am feeling I am “all that”, I get another reminder I have work to do.
And yet, the Joy I felt has continued to this day. I believe there was a major shift in my Be-ing after this event. Several days after the trip I started running a fever of 101 that lasted for three days. I believe this was a vibrational shift at a cellular level. Yes, I could put a practical spin on it; pneumonia with a fever, etc. But I believe my body has changed to incorporate these lessons and I am so grateful.