The river guide told us, "If you want to stay in the boat, keep paddling." My 8-year-old self was fixated on making sure I stayed in the boat so I held tight to that oar and paddled my heart out. There were times the raft was so high on a rapid that my oar didn't even touch the water, but I paddled. There were times the raft was engulfed in water as we pushed through rapids, and I paddled. There were multiple times the river guide gave the command to stop, but I paddled...a few more times just to be safe. I am not sure I remember much of that first rafting trip because my head was down and I was paddling my heart out...I wanted to stay in the boat. In fact, when we came along calm waters and could jump out to enjoy the river safely I refused. My place was in that boat. Each summer my family would head to Bend OR for weeks at a time and each summer we went rafting on the Deschutes. Year after year, there I was, repeating in my mind the words of the guide that first time, "If you want to stay in the boat, keep paddling." Never once did I fall out, but many times I was so focused on what I didn't want to happen that I missed out of enjoying the ride. Eventually, I realized I was probably never going to fall out of the boat and that I better look up and enjoy the ride. That was when I truly learned to love whitewater rafting. Despite all the danger, the ups, and downs, the cold water, I learned to love it because it felt like I was conquering that river...and I was, with the help of everyone else in the raft and of course the river guide.
I can't help but think this year has been one big river ride. Every time we look up there is another rapid ahead. We slam into it and take the hit. And if we keep paddling we will stay in the boat and float on to calmer waters. Adventure teaches us these lessons, we need to get back outside and keep learning, keep pushing through. When we make it through rapids or summit a mountain, we know we can do hard things. We say "Adventure please," because we know we will be better for it. #adventureplease #keeppaddling #adventuretime #weneedadventure #lifeisaboutadventures