Tuesday, June 2, 2009

When I went Rafting

It was not too difficult to be poetic there. The lively energy of the environment, the breathless excitement that mounted with every second, the sudden increase in adrenalin at the unpredictability of the situation inspired creativity in even the most dormant of minds. That day, the world had changed. It now consisted of nothing more than high-pitched crackles which rose and fell with an energetic rhythm of a river, an insane spinning and twirling to the pull of some unknown force and the co-coordinated effort of a bunch of muscles at the command of “Forward!”; Then, the relaxing of tendons, the awakening of more subtle of sensations, and the surroundings returning to soft focus... and at that instant of momentary calmness—time enough to get a greedy eyeful of clear May skies, barren rock faces, and golden eagles gliding along gracefully in the distance….before the river plunged you into another intense experience. For me, rafting along the Folsom proved to be an experience of a lifetime.

Sanskrit has a gender for rivers, and poets have descriptions. I have emotions. I closed my eyes for a second and heard the river chuckling. She seemed to be laughing sometimes, and sparkled every time she caught the sun. I could call her mischievous, grinning at our plight, toying with us like we were mere playthings. We urged her every so often with our muscles, and she responded by bouncing us through some insane rapids. She hid her naughtiness carefully whenever she turned sympathetic, but it was the careless Folsom that I preferred: The gurgling rapids which tossed me about with a wild abandon: careless, sprightly, and fearless.

Yes, you can tell, can’t you, that this is my first time rafting? I have been unsuccesful in shrugging off the excitement! The best part of the experience was the changing environment which shifted and pulsed as the river turned and meandered. You were greeted by some magnificent rocks at some point, and the next moment, they disappeared in the frothy excitement of the water which splashed about playfully, obscuring your vision. You admired the knotty pines which grew so quickly, and then they glided effortlessly away from the field of your vision. Folsom’s chuckled again, saying, “Don’t look back now, friend…there is much more I need to show you…”
I remembered Pocahontas’s “Just Around the River Bend…” that day. Every river bend seemed to promise me something, and didn’t leave me disappointed.

As the day wore on, energy didn’t wane. The sun was strong, but the river was stronger. She made sure to soak us to our bones, and when she didn’t we made sure that we were soaked. Water wars and battles prevailed and Folsom continued to chuckle. She knew that we could defeat each other at silly water games but we couldn’t win over her: she still decided on the direction and we bumbled along helplessly to her will. But she ensured that we enjoyed the thrill of that experience: sharing her enthusiasm with us when we approached the rapids, delighting us to some fantastic sights as she calmed…she made me feel blessed to be a part of this.

As I rushed home towards unfinished homework, upcoming tests and a mound of assignments, I remembered the voice of the lady next to me screaming “This cost me as much as Disneyland, but for all I can say, this was more worth it!” I couldn’t help agreeing with her more. For that day, the world had turned smaller and much more meaningful….and no amount of drudgery in the days to come could undo the excitement of this experience. Yes, I told Folsom, this had all been worth it….and heard her chuckle in agreement somewhere in the distance.