The View From the Bottom of the River

February 11, 2018

 

 

When I was in my 20's, my husband and I had the opportunity to go river rafting. We would drive with a band of gypsies to the east coast, mostly West Virginia, and we would raft. As often as we could. Usually in a very small, non-self-bailing, slightly leaking contraption. Someone was always "riding the bull" (this is sitting on the front of the raft, whilst going over some sort of drop, and hanging on for dear life, and a lot of smiling and screaming!) or some such nonsense. We loved it. It should be said, I do not have a great sense of direction when it comes to water sports. I am a poor sailor, and the excitement of rapidly moving water strikes me dumb of all good sense. I am a good swimmer, and always travel with a cavalcade of strong, athletic types for such occasions as follow....and of course I always wear a helmet.

We were hanging out one time with a few guys who were riding in a "rodeo" on the Ocoee River in North Carolina. These guys were a group of great kayakers, and river guides and a hoot to watch. Our plan was to raft down, through the rodeo site, and then pull out and watch our friends. We were in some red, leaky raft, the 5 of us. Our guide was a good friend, and as usual, I was the only girl. We happened upon a hole in the river, notorious for fun play. As the river was busy this day, and our raft had the grace of a mac truck so after waiting a bit, we were allowed space and time to "surf this hole". Now, if you have never done this, I recommend it. Highly. The deal is your guide rolls your boat over a rapid, and then in the rushing wave of water on the other side of the hole you just dropped into, there is a hydraulic feature that allows you to "surf" this wave. Being with such experienced river guys, we went for it. And it was glorious. We dropped about 6 feet over a fall, into the hole and were in this wave, people gazing, laughing with joy, filming us for god's sake! Our guide had our raft turning in circles, and we were so happy. Elated. Spinning our paddles over our heads with primitive joy! And then he said, "LEAN!". And we all leaned. Everyone leaned away from the hole, as apparently we were going to leave it, and I leaned in. To the hole. I fell into this rushing, freezing, demanding water. And suddenly, all was still. I remember hitting my head on the bottom, and seeing that amazing water hole from underneath. I looked up and the surface was glowing golden white, and I thought, for one second..."you have to go up there now". And I moved up. Now when you raft, you are told incessantly, that when you fall in the river, flip onto your back, put your feet downriver and stay above water. So when I popped up, I assumed the position, and gasped for air. I heard my husband, yelling above all the rushing noise and people telling me what to do, and he screamed 1 time, "GO*D#MM#T ANNE, SWIM HERE". And I did, and was pulled out by my collar and lived to tell the tale.

Right now in my practice, I feel like I am looking up from the bottom of the river. I am so happy, and having the time of my life! I would do this everyday if I could survive it, and I know how privileged I am to be here and now. I also get 40 calls a day, and am booked into March, and have more to do than I can conceive. I'm still scared of what I don't know, and almost everyday do something really hard. My house is filthy. My husband is still my beacon. My witness.

I also know, that when I surface again, I will be sure of where I am going, and will be so stoked to look back and tell how I survived it all.

Thank you all for your grace in this time, I appreciate you all. XO AW

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