The River D.
Disregard the title of this post. It’s an inside thing. This will be about a river, though. I was finally moved enough to write over this past weekend when I floated one for two and a half hours. It’s the first time I’ve written this summer. I’m happy to be moving my fingers over these keys and hearing the “chk chk chk chk” from pressing them.
Little background: I returned from out of the country on Friday night. The beach I visited with my immediate family was as beautiful as ever. The weather was perfection. Eighty-six degrees with a heavenly breeze. I spent the majority of my time laid out under the sun with the water and sky as my backdrop. I typically find indescribable peace this way, but for some reason this time around, I just couldn’t. Over six days I couldn’t find the stillness I was in need of, and I was just lying there on the beach… being still. My thoughts were the culprit. My mind refused to obey me. The first two days were especially heavy. The four days that followed got progressively better, but I didn’t board the plane home feeling completely refreshed like I’d hoped.
I pulled into my garage around 7:30 pm Friday night. Unwound on the couch for a bit before transferring some items from my luggage to an overnight bag. In a matter of hours, I’d be on the road again. This time two and half hours away to a town near Austin, TX.
To the river.
In a big, black, jacked up truck with huge wheels and exhaust pipes that roared up the rolling hills and down the winding country roads. A cooler was in the back filled with ice, beverages, sandwiches and chips, along with tubes for floating and a rope to tie it all together once we got out on the river.
The river was packed. It was a busy weekend with the 4th and all. There was an estimated two-hour float time. We maneuvered through the crowd pretty easily thanks to a stranger who picked us up on his golf cart. We eased into the river (and I do mean eased), because I refused to submerge more than 25% of my body in that ice cold water! I sat in my tube on the concrete and then scooted myself into the water holding on for dear life. It worked!
The next step was to tie the tubes together. I don’t know what kinda knot it was, but it got the job done just in time for the natural current to suck us in. We got situated and comfortable with drinks in hand, and off we went down the Comal River.
Off we went… except... we were hardly moving at all. I couldn’t help but notice how SLOWLY the current was flowing.
Now, go with me here… This is where The River D got really good:
It bothered me to no end that we were moving at a snail’s pace. Not only were we going unbelievably slow, but we actually began to go backwards at some point and INTO the brush on the side of the river. Um… no. This wasn’t gonna work for me.
I needed to get us into the flow of things, where the action was, where the people were, and where the current was really flowing. I mean, we weren’t progressing. We were basically stuck. You know?
So, I put my arms down in the water, cupped my hands, and began to row towards where I wanted to be. I was working really hard and had assumed my river companion was going to assist. I look back, and he’s sitting there with his Gilligan's Island looking hat pulled down low, his sun glasses on, drink in hand, and head resting against the seat of the float. He’s not even looking in my direction.
“D!” I holler. “Help me row us over there!”
He moves half a muscle only so he can look me in the eyes and say (way too calmly), “You need to sit back and relax. The river will get us where we need to be.”
“But we’re going BACKwards!” I’m working hard and splashing about.
He did not budge, and so I just sat there for a second defeated. Still leaning forward. Nowhere near relaxed. A few minutes later, he calmly suggested again that I sit back. I looked around, and still unsatisfied decided to grab on to the rope of another group of floaters nearby. I paddled over to them and announced myself. A girl in the group understood my frustration and told me to grab on and they’d help us get unstuck.
D never moved, never said a word, never agreed, or disagreed. He was just straight chillin. This is cracking me up as I write. It’s amazing the turmoil we put ourselves through only to look back once it’s all over and ask, “Why was I so anxious?”
Once we were rescued I could relax a little bit and enjoy the ride. Notice what I said: Once I was RESCUED… then I could relax.
It’s not supposed to be that way.
About twenty minutes later, we went down a shoot where the current picks up and sends you kind of spiraling down this “slide” of sorts and into another section of the river. D warned me to brace myself, because I could potentially flip out of my tube. I assured him that would not be happening, because I was not getting in that ice cold water. We went down, and sure enough I stayed afloat, BUT… the current gets tricky there, and if you’re on the inside you can get stuck going in a circle. Guess where we ended up? On the inside going in a circle. We ended up going around this circle five times. How do I know? Because as I’m fussing at D to help row us out, a man sitting up on the bank of the river overhears me and instigates, “Again?! I’ve seen y’all FIVE times!”
“Oh lawd…” is D.
“See what I’m saying?!” is me. “We are stuck!”
“Do you have somewhere to be?” D finally sits up to ask me. “Because, I don’t. And personally, I’m not in a rush to end the float, so unless you are, I’d suggest you sit back and go with the flow. Trust me, the current will carry us to the end of the river.”
When he said ‘go with the flow’ to me (who is the self-proclaimed queen of going with the flow), I paused to ask myself a hard question:
Brandie, can you go with the flow when the flow isn’t going your way?
I looked over at him, laughed and rolled my eyes, “I don’t have anywhere to be, Champ.”
He looked at me, smiled, and shook his head, "I know."
Just then, no lie, a woman who’d fallen out of her tube on the shoot went under his tube and then popped her head out of the water gasping for breath. She went back under obviously struggling to gather herself and nearly drowning.
D pops up and reaches his hand out to her yelling, “Just grab my hand!”
The lady’s eyes are wide and terrified as she reaches for him. Now, D is a very solid 225. I’m just saying If I’m drowning, please let those big, strong, callused, country hands pull me to safety. Fa real. Lol.
Sorry. Back to the story.
She held tight as he gave her the next set of instructions, “Dive across the tube. Straight over it, and I’ll help hold it steady while you shift your body.”
She had no choice but to trust him, though she was exhausted from just trying to find her breath. Together, they got her in the tube. The only help I offered was a smile of encouragement. D had truly helped save this lady’s life.
I don’t know where she floated to after that, because the whole ordeal had pulled us into the correct current and we were back off down the river. D went back to his relaxed state while I looked around me and considered that question again:
Brandie, can you go with the flow when the flow is not going your way?
Or do you have to feel like you’re somewhat in a safe zone before you can truly let go and trust the process? Do you need to have control?
D had said ‘the water will get you where you’re going’, and he was right. I knew it to be true, but it just wasn’t happening fast enough for me. The flow wasn’t just taking us straight to the destination. There were all kinds of detours, circles, going under trees and getting really close to the brush on the edge. At one point, D and I had to duck down in our tubes, because we’d gotten too close to some tree branches that were hanging over into the river.
As I contemplated all this, I found myself getting more and more relaxed in my tube. I stopped worrying about where we were going, or how the current would get us there, or even when we were going to get there. Heck, we were moving, and we weren’t drowning. That should be enough.
Lately, I’ve been struggling with all three of those worries: The where, how, and when. I’ve been so anxious. To the point that a couple of weeks ago I went to visit Dr. Bailey (my long time therapist -for the newer readers). I needed to discuss how/why I haven’t been able to rest my mind.
Dr. Bailey said it seemed as though my thought life was getting the best of me. That he was even hearing me speak their lies out loud, saying things like… “I’m a procrastinator. I can’t finish anything I start. I’m afraid of failure.” etc.
Basically, I’d been feeding my fears.
It’s like God revealed me to myself. Out there on the river I could clearly see how I don’t completely trust and surrender to his will and way sometimes. I often carve out my own path. One that makes sense to me, and then I take the wheel, navigate it, and try to also control the speed.
I often only enjoy the ride when it’s set on auto pilot, and I know what I can expect.
If I do lose control, I can usually appreciate it only after I’m okay. Like, I’m writing about the river now, because I’ve survived the experience. Now I can see the beauty in it and eve laugh at myself.
But when I was on the river trying to get picked up by the current, it wasn’t funny. I was too busy trying to fix it. Control it.
I was all anxious for nothing.
Sometimes I wish I could see the end result of it all. See that it will all work out, and how it will all work out. I’m talking about life now. I wanna sometimes just see for myself the way it’s working. Because going around in circles seems to be what I’m doing. I’m so desperate to get in the current. I wanna flow towards my destination. You know? Then, I know for sure I’ll be able to relax, enjoy, and go with the flow.
But that’s just not life. That’s not the way it works.
Down the river the crowds began to thin out, and it seemed we had the whole river to ourselves. We were floating right in the center of the current, and for about twenty minutes we both even fell asleep feeling fully relaxed and comfortable.
I woke up thinking my nap could’ve been longer had I relaxed a lot sooner. I could’ve enjoyed the river that much more.
Applicable to life.