Monday, May 9, 2011
On April 18, I set off with my boyfriend's family for what would be the trip of a lifetime. On the way, I made myself sick to my stomach with worry. We were headed to the Grand Canyon for 15 days of white water rapid-filled fun on the Colorado River. Only, I was freakin' out, petrified that I'd fall into the water and drown. Doesn't sound like fun, does it?
On the entire 4.5 hour-drive from Phoenix to Marble Canyon, near the put-in spot, the place we'd begin our river raft tour, I wasn't thinking of the professional guides we'd be with, the life preservers we'd be wearing for safety, nor the fact that thousands of visitors take this same trip year after year. All I was thinking about was that my boyfriend, who was supposed to be my hero, couldn't go, and I was going to have to save myself should the need arise. I wasn't sure I could do that. I knew I'd panic. I wanted my security blanket, in this case, my boyfriend. So as the only couple in our family outing without my partner, I was feeling sunk--and my toes hadn't even touched water yet.
Whoa! I know that's a lot of anxiety--and unrealistic--for anyone, but especially for a person who thrives on turning obstacles into opportunities. But I just wasn't sure I knew how to fix this challenge. I wasn't sure I had the ability to relax and really have fun. I could only hope that it would happen. And that's why I still wanted to go. I had that hope I could overcome this inner battle. Obviously, I had something to prove to myself and knew this trip was something I needed to do. I knew my hero was really me. I just didn't know what tool I would use to find her.
I should have known it would be humor.
By Day 12, we hit the rapid of all rapids, Lave Falls. It was the one we most anticipated. It was the one we were told was the Big Kahuna. It was the one I really feared. I'd survived all the others. No one had flipped a raft. There'd been no passenger fall-ins. We'd moved past all the earlier rapids, even the ones that required scouting, with relative ease--and lots of laughs. But this one still daunted me. It was the one the guides talked about in whispers. It was the one my friends back home worried about. It was the one I thought might do me in.
And then a funny thing happened. Despite the anxiety that bubbled up in the pit of my stomach when I first heard the rapid about a 1/4 mile away...despite the fact that I could see Lava's rapids shooting up into the air, reaching out her liquid arches like fingers, ready to pull you in...when we finally stopped to get out and get close enough for the big scouting adventure, all I could see was the right way into it. As we made our way through the trails up the hill to look down below at the river and what awaited us there, I could see for myself that Lava Falls didn't look so bad. She looked no worse than the rapids we'd already been through before. And we'd made it through all of those just fine. I started to relax.
Thus, the video above. By the time this moment arrived, I'd resigned myself to the knowledge that our guides would get us through this one without incident. By this time, laughter and relaxation had taken over my days-long fear. And Lynn Etter, the videographer, decided we'd pretend to be the scouts. So join us as we relive this moment, just before we enter the throes of Lava Falls Rapid. With a rating as high as a 10, the highest rating for a rapid, a rapid that should offer all the challenge the raging waters can bring on, this one acted more like an 8, maybe a 7. Whatever she was on the ratings meter, for us, she was a lot of fun. And I definitely enjoyed riding her up, up and up--and then back down into calm waters again. Take a look and see what I mean. Then...
Tell me about a time when something scared you silly, to the point that you would have turned back if given the choice? What happened? How did you conquer that fear?