I guess a lot of people have had this experience and now I can proudly add my name to the list. My wife and I rode the rapids down the Rio Grande River in a rubber boat (it was her idea). To this day I still don’t get it; sharp rocks, rubber boat…hellooo! At one point, a few folks decided to get out of the boat and go down the rapids in just their life jackets—same thing, canvass jacket, sharp rocks…huh? I really didn’t want to do this but I just couldn’t dispel my wife’s belief that she married a “manly man.” So I reluctantly volunteered for this potentially suicidal mission. For anyone who has ever done this, you know that the first rule is never put your feet straight down when you slip into a rushing river—always keep them up in front of you. So what did I do? I put my feet straight down and immediately went tumbling head over heels like a Cirque du Soleil contortionist!

As I was ferociously swept away by the merciless current, there was definitely a vulnerable feeling of being totally out of control. And the more I fought it, the closer I came to the sharp, jagged rocks. However, once I finally relaxed, put my feet up, and let go of fighting and resisting the strong pull; and once I began to “trust” my own instincts, and just go with the flow, it only took the slightest coaxing of my body, to avoid the rocks and actually maintain control, even though, I was still totally out of control!

Perhaps the big lesson I walked away with (rather, survived) will resonate with you too: That often I feel like all of my gallant dreams, schemes and projects are being ferociously swept away by my own petty circumstances; money, time, my ego, the voices in my head, distractions, you name it. The only real choice I have is to release my grip on the situation, resign my righteous position, surrender to the gods, and ever-so-slightly coax my way around the rocks and boulders of life. When I’m able to do this, I usually wash up on some sandy beach with a smile on my face and a story to tell…a story about surviving one more of life’s challenging adventures. The other lesson I learned: always keep your feet up when you go down the rapids without a boat.

Have you ever had that “in control/out of control” felling? Ever gone down the rapids without a boat?

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