This past weekend I had three ladies come out to an Intro to Whitewater Clinic. We experienced both sunshine and a thunderstorm together, worked with wet exits, strokes, ferries and eddies. What really struck me was that in the face of something new, these ladies inner strength, light and laughter shone through.
Approaching things from a place of “I can” has such a strong impact on our ability to follow through. When we set our minds to something, it then shifts not to a question of our ability, but a focus on the logistics, the execution, the real work that needs to be done to accomplish the goal. If we have concerns about what we are doing, fear of flipping over, fear of being underwater, we acknowledge this, but we also have a foundational commitment to ourselves to overcome that fear and we build a map to do this with our intention. For example, we break down the Ferry into Angle, Edge and Momentum as aspects to focus on, our intentions. We honor ourselves when we spell out our intention to such a degree that we can hold that intention with each step we take toward our goal. Like when we practice levels of edging, we get a feel for how much we need to edge our boat before doing it in the actual current. When we are in the current, we hold that singular intention, that feeling our body already knows of where that edge should be. Each step is then both an affirmation and an accomplishment. It is an affirmation that the intentional skill we learned before works and an accomplishment in the new task we complete when we bring the three skills together! The greatest gift of fear is that we get to convert the unknown uncertainty into certain knowledge for ourselves. In following through we find testimony to our inner strength, but the real reward lies is the discovery of an unknown secret, new experiential knowledge about ourselves and the world! (I can cross current without flipping!)
Testing our limits isn’t always at the extreme edge. Fear and discovery happen in varying degrees at all kinds of stages. However, if we don’t come up against our limits, the boundaries of our human experience thus far, if we don’t re-evaluate that space we know as comfortable and the space we just don’t know what lies beyond we don’t get the chance to experience the possibilities of what we might be. I’m not advocating for going blindly in fear. Bring a map before you go to the foreign country! Have a game plan on some sites you want to see,
things you want to accomplish. But as with traveling, the things you are hoping to gain from it are things you’re not even sure you can describe to yourself before you go, it’s the intangibles of the smell in the air, the types of birds flying in the sky that you get to experience but could never predict.
These ladies showed me again and again their inner light and curiosity by working through limits and boundaries that they saw as comfortable. Our two days together were filled with working through newness and uncertainty and finding the light in our journey down stream. Bamboo forests, bird calls and the choking greenery which gives the river its name, graced us as bonus features to our improved ability to navigate a boat downstream.
I think it’s important to remember that we all feel fear. It’s unavoidable. There is uncertainty in doing new things. But how we channel that response, how we use it to gather more information and build a plan, to ask ourselves questions about the less clear aspects of a task, how we move forward is what builds us to our next step.
As Thomas Jefferson said “If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.”
Want something you’ve never had? Come join us in our last two Intro to Whitewater classes of the Summer season and do something you’ve never done!