A Tip from the Nile River

Today I went to campus for a sustainability committee meeting. Senya came with me. It went really well. She just chilled out on my lap for most of it; when she got hungry, I gave her a bottle. She was talking a little (her adorable voice is too cute for me to really try to “shush” her wholeheartedly), but not enough to distract people. Overall, it went well. And she made it more fun for me to be there. I feel that way when I read for school late at night, too, and she sleeps on me. It keeps me connected to the ultimate values in my life. I guess broadly speaking, Love is the terminal value for which I am pursuing all these instrumental goals. And boy, do I love her.

It’s good to remember this because sometimes I wonder why I am pushing myself so much while she’s so young. But, when I pause to reflect on my life, I really do have peace that I am doing the things I am meant to do right now. And so, I trust that I will have the resources that I need to complete the different tasks in front of me. And it reminds me of white-water rafting on the White Nile in Uganda.

When we got in our raft (after signing a bunch of waivers saying that we knew we might die or become otherwise injured in the course of this activity) I could have become overwhelmed and panicked by the sheer volume and force of white water stretching as far as I could see. But we had been given a crash-course in technique and also what to do in the event of urgent situations that might arise, so I limited my attention to the immediate. In an adrenaline-pumping activity that requires skill or action from me, I have found that focus is important. Focusing on what I need to do in the present moment is better than focusing on what could go wrong.

And so, wave by wave, I did what I had been instructed to do. And it worked each time. It was amazing and exhilarating to maneuver over such turbulent, fast water. Never before had I felt so “in the moment.”

After a few hours of rafting, our guide (this bamf New Zealander girl) took us straight into a violent patch of convening rapids and our raft flipped. Then, the muted sound of the powerful river filled my consciousness as the current pulled me rapidly downstream. When I tried to surface, I couldn’t. I was under the raft. I thought there would be an air pocket, but no. There wasn’t. Now-this could have become traumatic, if I let it.  I have a bit of history with getting stuck or trapped; I’ll save those stories for another time. Suffice it to say, I have a tendency to feel claustrophobic sometimes. But in this moment under the raft, the bamf Kiwi’s voice returned to me, saying “if there is no air pocket when you try to scream for help under the raft, then use your hands to feel your way from the center of the overturned raft to the edge, then swim underneath, and surface.” So, I did that.

Instantly after surfacing, two arms reached down and pulled me atop the overturned raft. It was Collin. And I was fine.

So, I remember that day when I am facing events or tasks in life that could seem overwhelming. That memory reminds me that sometimes looking too far ahead, things may seem impossible. But, if I take it wave by wave, then I’ll make it.

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