This year was different. Very different. For five straight years, I organized a group of friends from a local outdoor club to go white water rafting down the infamous Gauley River in West Virginia. This year was different. Very different. For five straight years, I organized a group of friends from a local outdoor club to go white water rafting down the infamous Gauley River in West Virginia. This is not your normal tubing with beers, this is over fifty full-on, action-packed Class IV and V rapids and coordinated team paddling. The team is carefully selected and slackers were left at home. This particular section of the river is dam controlled and only released for six straight weekends starting after Labor Day.
However, leading up to the usual fun weekend of rafting, camping, and barbecuing turned a bit wild. A hurricane headed straight to the Carolina coast. Hmmm???? Every day, I called the outfitter inquiring about the status of the trip. All I got was, in twenty years, we’ve never canceled a rafting trip. So, let it be. The hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm as it crossed over into the Appalachian mountains directly to where we were headed.
Upon arriving at the carpool Friday night after work, in clothes drenched with rain. We divided ourselves into three cars. Who’s up for an adventure? The group seemed perplexed yet laughing about it all. Well, this will be interesting, said another. Five hours later we arrive at our campsite and the rain slows to a drizzle.
Upon waking, the sun began to trickle through the clouds delighting our hearts with contentment. We eat a hearty breakfast, put on our wetsuits, and head on the bus to the river to put in.
The river is moving fast and swiftly, more than the four previous years. It’s shaking up our confidence in what we previously knew and achieved before. This rafting trip was going to be different. How? Only the unfolding of the day will tell. After all, we can’t control how fast the water flows down the river. We can only choose how we show up. How we choose to handle each encounter and rapids is up to us.
The question that arose was, will we paddle as a team or get shaken up in fear and get thrown overboard into the swift-moving current?
As rafters, you sit on the edge of the raft and then wedge your feet under the crossbars of the raft so you don’t fall out. No matter how uncomfortable the sitting position on the raft may be, this little bit of security went a long way for peace of mind.
A third of the way down the river, the canyon narrows, and the major rapids begin shortly thereafter. In prior years, a small gentle creek also flows into the river there. Yet, this year was different. Due to the storm, this little creek turned into a raging river flowing into another river. The water level rose quickly and the current thrust us faster downstream. The intensity of this trip was only beginning to crystalize.
Here it comes, the first class V rapid, The Iron Ring. Our guidelines up the boat as we paddle our way forward. Boom! The guide yells, Paddle, Paddle, Paddle. Suddenly, I was paddling into thin air. Boom! The raft crashes back down.
Our raft was perpendicular to the river. We hit the rapid with such intensity that the raft almost flipped over backward.
We all stayed in the raft and gave each other the high five of paddles that we made it through unscathed. Relief, yet a big sigh. This was only the first rapid and there were many more ahead. The canyon continued to narrow.
From that point, there was no turning back. There was no way to exit the river. Paddling upriver into the resistance didn’t even remotely make sense. Our only option was to continue paddling downstream. Learning to navigate our own senses was first and foremost. As a team, we constantly checked on each other to see how we were doing after each rapid. At times, we felt exhausted yet grateful for the periods of gentle rapids in between the large class IV and V rapids.
The past few years have been similar. Thrown into a river not knowing where we are headed or what the obstacles or rapids may be. We can’t control the events around us. We can only take responsibility for our own emotions that we bring into the mix. We are in the midst of rapid transformation right now, hitting rapid after rapid. Yet, with each one, we grow into a deeper sense of who we really are.
When we operate from our center and choose to communicate with love and joy, we remain unscathed by whatever rapids we face.
That day, we showed up fully and whole, paddling in cooperation with each other. No one went rogue thinking they could paddle the river by themselves. It was about teamwork and commitment to work together. Our lives depended upon it. We paddled each rapid one at a time. It was truly living in the moment. Each breath. Each motion of the paddle. The collaboration that day has stuck with us for the rest of our lives. This took the adventure to a whole new level of what’s possible.
This week, how can you find your inner confidence to navigate through anything? It’s time to let go of the past sufferings. Allow your divine light to be fully expressed and take you downstream to explore vast new areas of the river that delight your soul and tickle your heart. From here, the next phase of life will dramatically be different and highly evolved.
Wishing you an abundant, joyful, and prosperous day!
Chief Energy Officer
© 2022. Lora Polowczuk. All Rights Reserved.
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