This week we went white water rafting down the French Broad River. The French Broad River flows over 200 miles from North Carolina to Tennessee. As a river loses elevation and begins to slope that gradient causes a disturbance in the water flow, which results in rapids being formed that are unstable, bubbly and appear as white in color. Now of course that is a layman’s description so please don’t quote me on any of that. Let’s just call it the “unofficial explanation.” The entire experience was exhilarating and true to my personality and how I process information I found myself reflecting on the similarities between white water rafting and life. Perhaps by modeling some of these principles our lives could also be exhilarating.
Planning is essential to that which is substantive. This may seem so basic but all of us took the time to schedule an appointment to have the experience. There were no walk-ins. It made me realize how little we plan to have exciting, breath taking and memorable moments in our life. So, if we are not planning for the spectacular, is it possible we are inadvertently planning for the mundane? Put something exciting, soul stirring and satisfying to your being on your calendar at least once per quarter. Plan to live better. Plan to laugh more. Plan to stretch yourself. Plan time with those you love. Plan to live.
Take the time to look around. We were almost an hour into our excursion when it finally hit me that we were in the midst of the mountains. As I began to look up and look around the scenery and the shear beauty I was in the midst of blew me away. In life, we can get so caught up in what we are doing that we fail to see the beauty that is around us. We can become so preoccupied with doing that we cease being; so busy watching television that we forget how wonderful it is to share our home with our children or our spouse; so busy doing chores and laundry that we fail to be mindful of the roof that is over our head. We must miss a lot just by failing to look around. Start looking around your home, church and city more and I promise you there are some gems you have been overlooking.
Obstacles are a part of the journey. As we traveled through the water we encountered rocks, fallen trees and limbs. Stopping, doing nothing or retreating is not an option. You must find a way around it, over it or under it if you plan to continue on your journey. Such is life. We must learn that every worthwhile journey will have obstacles. To use a football metaphor, the one with the ball is going to be hit. We must accept these moments as a necessary part of the journey. While on the river I learned to view these obstacles quite differently. Obstacles force us to rethink our strategy, enabling us to think more broadly and analytically which in turn develops added competencies for the next hurdle. Obstacles give us confidence as we now have a track record in overcoming obstacles and clearing hurdles. An obstacle causes us to trust and depend on others as often times a group effort will be required.
You are not the only one in the raft. In our particular raft there was seven people. Our “guide” gave us directions as a unit. One person paddling alone or one person paddling in the wrong direction had an impact upon the group. In life we must be aware that we do not live in a vacuum but rather we are a nexus of social obligations. We are a web of groups that need each other. We should strive for the benefit of the common good. May our lives follow the precedent established in the raft. No ethnic group and no family get to be parochially centered. It never occurred to any of us to set our groups against each other. Elton John penned the wonderful lyrics of The Circle of Life – “From the day we arrive on the planet and blinking, step into the sun. There’s more to be seen than can ever be seen. More to do than can ever is done. Some say eat or be eaten. Some say life and let live. But all are agreed as they join the stampede. You should never take more than you give.”
Wherever you read this from I urge you to apply these four simple yet life changing lessons. After all life is a trip and the people you do life with are also a trip. Since there is no getting off anyway until the journey is complete we’d might as well make the most out of where we are and when the ride is done may we have enjoyed it so much that we want a picture and a t-shirt to memorialize the experience.
What have you experienced in life that has been so exhilarating that you wished you had a picture and a t-shirt to commemorate it?