This is an excerpt of guest blog post “Going with the Flow” that I was honored to be invited to write for The Flipside Life (TFSL) community. The mission of TFSL is to foster meaningful connection and create a diverse and inclusive community that supports and enhances the lives of physician families through advocacy, education, mentorship and events.
For more information about TFSL visit www.theflipsidelife.com
I was 12 years old when my dad first signed me up for canoe school. That involved an intense weekend of whitewater paddling on the beautiful Mulberry River in northwest Arkansas. I began my instruction in a tandem beginner class paired up with the only other relatively young kid in the group. We were basically a disaster waiting to happen. Even combined, we did not possess much physical strength. I bet that we barely weighed 150 lbs total, even soaking wet. I was slightly older, outwardly more confident, and the heavier of us, so I was assigned to the rear of the canoe. Neither he nor I was thrilled with our pairing, but nonetheless, our education on the river ensued.
That weekend I learned many valuable lessons. For example, it is virtually impossible to paddle a canoe in a perfectly straight line. Therefore, it’s not your partner’s fault when it doesn’t happen (despite what you might think). Balance is key and you have to learn how to work together as a team. Both partners have crucial jobs that require being in sync. Most things that you think are your partner’s fault actually are not. Usually what ends up messing you up is the wind or the current of the river, or a sneaky rock hiding amid the rapids. Also, yelling at your partner because you are freaking out in a moment of crisis does NOT help your situation (and probably will make it worse).
I learned that you can’t control the river, but you can control how you react to it. And it’s always best to go with the flow.
All the most critical aspects of these lessons came to head the final day of canoe school. Students were required to pass a final test – successfully navigating our way around the raging Sacroiliac rapids. I was absolutely terrified. When it was our turn to go, it was pouring rain. I had zero faith in the kid I was paddling with, not much more in my own newly acquired skills. And my heart was pounding as loudly as the river was raging around us.
As we set off, the current yanking us forcefully along, my partner immediately dropped his paddle, clenched the sides of the boat, and started hollering. I leaned in, rain splattering my face, and paddled as hard as I could. I was determined to get us through by following the flow of the rapids. It was the most stressful and exhilarating event of my young life. As we rounded the last bend, I felt so immensely proud of us for making it through without capsizing.
Surprisingly, I have loved canoeing ever since and my early experiences on the river taught me many lasting life lessons. Ironically most of these lessons have proved to be valuable for my husband and me throughout our medical journey as well.
>> read full post HERE.