by Maisie Smith on July 9, 2015
“Are we even moving?” I yelled over my shoulder to my guy. He was floating 100 feet behind me on an identical purple inner tube, his ankles and toes hidden beneath the river water. We had been winding along for hours in slow motion.
I dug my flimsy plastic paddle into the water, trying to propel myself along. It was a frantic effort, like watching a windmill try and take flight. River water splashed everywhere as my inner tube spun in circles. The Central Oregon sun had been searing my shin bones for the past five hours and I was hungry and tired from holding my feet up out of the water. (I have this outlandish fear that fish will think my pinky toe is a worm and try to bite it off.)
I leaned against the blow-up backrest and let the intense sunlight filter through the primeval forest trees and onto my face. Potato chips. Jambalaya. Wine in a box. It was all waiting for me back at our campsite.
The sun was hot on my cheekbones as I floated along at the breakneck speed of .013 mph. Nature’s silence was an irritating roar in my ears. Maybe they’d find my withered body in a few weeks, melted into my plastic inner tube and lodged under a fallen tree downriver. My pinky toes, obviously, would be missing.
“This is the adventure, you know.”
His chocolatey voice, the one that both grounds me and makes my heart melt, had snuck up from behind. I twirled around with my wonky paddle to face him. He’s super smart, this man of mine, the kind of guy who plans for a merciless high desert sun with brimmed hats and long sleeve, UVB-blocking shirts from Columbia.
I’m the girl who shows up in flip flops and lipstick.
“You can’t make the river flow any faster, so you might as well enjoy the view.”
Dang. Smart AND right.
Earlier that morning we had been sitting in our dusty camp chairs, drinking coffee from metal cups and course correcting the things that weren’t working in our lives. Business. Health. Spending more time together. Travel.
We do it every three months. And this year? It’s our “Year of Adventure.”
“We design our lives!” I declared. More fooling around during the day. More working from interesting places. More saying “No.” More pausing. More fluidity. Less rigidity.
I love adventure. And I love crossing adventures off of my list.
Slish-slash. Done! Slish-slash. Done!
I’d always thought that my journey needed to be Instagram-worthy. Big. Lofty. Impressive. With a distinct destination.
Time to course correct.
I opened my eyes and began to truly see what a crazy, magnificent adventure our river float was. Yes, it was a slow creep. Storm clouds were rolling in behind us. We had a 12-mile mountain bike ride waiting for us at the end of the float and the apples I had packed were covered in sunscreen and bug spray.
And yet the trees lining the river were the most remarkable shades of green. They lined the banks like sentinels of awesomeness. Occasionally, one would grow in a weird direction, as if it was leaning over to slurp out of a stream. Sunlight glinted off of the river current like someone had scattered a bag full of diamonds. The end of my cheap paddle kept falling off and floating away, reminding me how useless it truly was.
I was smack dab in the middle of the Universe’s Great Show.
And I realized that my guy was right:
Life IS the adventure.
Sometimes our paddles fall apart and we are left at the mercy of the current. Sometimes it’s more of an awkward spinning, bumping journey than a than a smooth glide.
And sometimes our shin bones get toasted.
To drinking it all in,