Hang on to the Paddle! – Rafting for Life

My “bucket list” included whitewater rafting.  I thought it would be somewhat similar to a rollercoaster ride.  It was actually more of a series of lessons on life.

Several of us put together a trip and invited some of our friends – male bonding at it’s finest.  Most of us had never been rafting, but we were smart enough to hire guides.

We had a great time and shared many experiences on the river, but one still stands out:

On our first day, the guides gave us a short training course and talked about safety on the river.  There was much to learn and remember.  The one thing one of my friends remembered was that we were not supposed to let go of our paddle – no matter what!  Well, we weren’t on the river long before he fell out of our raft.  It was a pretty wild part of the river and my friend did almost everything wrong (according to the guide’s list of rules), but he did hang onto the paddle.  He was pretty spent by the time he finally made his way to shore and we were able to stop and pick him up.  He did, however, raise his paddle in triumph.

At the campfire that night, I heard my friend telling several people that while he was in the river all he could think about was hanging onto his paddle.  He claimed that the paddle saved his life.  Our guide was walking past at just that point and my friend asked him what it was specifically about hanging onto the paddle that saved him.  The guide looked at him, and without missing a beat said, “Hanging onto that paddle did nothing for you.  In fact, it could have caused you to drown.”  My friend then asked, “Well, why did you tell us to hang onto it?”  The guide replied, “They’re expensive.”

In the years since that trip I have often thought about the expensive things in my life that could cause me to drown if I hang onto them – I usually let go.

Meeting a goal, learning a life lesson, bonding with friends, and not drowning – all the ingredients of a successful trip.

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