No easy task to get across the river

Jul 7 2013

Guest post by Evan Hutton, Our Place 2013 coordinator and teaching assistant—

I’ve realized throughout my ‘river-walking’ training that even though rivers can be perceived calm, peaceful and tranquil from a distance, once you’re up-close and physically in a river, you learn they have a wild, dangerous side.

As we took our campers across the Westfield River, the current rushed with such a powerful force, that the councilors had to bring each individual camper over one by one or else their young body would be dragged into the powerful rapids leaving their fate to be determined by the river.

This experience would make any individual tremble. You’re dealing with a child going through a class 4 river. You do not want them to be overwhelmed by the seriousness of the situation therefore you have to present the problem in a different light. The individual has to make the children believe that they are able to accomplish this feat by thinking creatively, methodically and tactically.

This dual image of the river shows us a real life optical illusion, the paradox that the river provides; tranquility and raw power. It represents the yin and the yang. It represents life.  But how do we deal when the river roars at our feet, trying to make us fall, slip or even drown. It’s the same way we approach any conundrum in life. We go with the flow and take what the river gives us.

When we emerge into the river, our bodies can quiver, our lungs can lose its breath and our fear of getting hurt can overwhelm us. To approach the river we must take a very naturalist way of solving a problem,  taking what is provided and thriving in that environment. And that is how Kurt and I got those kids over the river. We taught them how to thrive in the river.

In order to thrive, we must take each step carefully and methodically in order to complete the obstacle course that the river provides. If the current is strong, we embrace ourselves by bend our knees to get into a position that can withstand the roaring current. When we try to take steps in the river, we do not just aimlessly put one foot in front of the other. If we do, we will surely fall since the bottom of the river is covered with rocks that have been smoothed out by erosion and glazed over by a covering of algae. To successfully walk across the river on a slippery platform, we must look for space in-between rocks on the bottom floor in order to get firm footing. When we get that firm footing, we can look for eddies (a current of water or air running contrary to the main current caused by an interruption by a larger boulder) for a ‘cheat-code’ in the middle of the rapids.

It is no easy task to get across the river but as in life, to get to the ‘other side’ one must use tactical and methodical thinking in order to accomplish what they desire and dream. Life can be a beautiful  idea but it has it dark moments that can appear at any moment and because of those moments, each individual needs to be prepared for anything that can be thrown at them. From afar the river is alluring but once the river has drawn you in with its magnetic force, you have to learn how tackle the problem that is in front of your eyes. Tactically and methodically. If you take this approach in life, it may get easier.





Jul 2024