Normally, I’m somewhere between sedate and boring. I like to stay home. My fear-o-meter doesn’t run properly, so I prefer not to trip that thermostat. I don’t do rollercoasters. I don’t see horror movies. I don’t even like to fly.
So why did I agree to go white-water rafting on the Snake River at my cousin’s wedding a couple of Junes ago?
Everyone else was doing it.
There were three rafts — one piloted by the groom, one by his father, and one by his best man. Since we were going with locals who grew up navigating the Snake, we took the necessary safety measures required by park rangers (life jackets), but we didn’t go overboard (no helmets). We also had plenty of beer. Ironically, this made me feel safer. If everyone is too cautious, I’m sure disaster lurks around the bend.
Our guides knew the risks of the river, and they felt confident to meet whatever came our way. Plus, our group included three former Army Rangers, two of whom later went Delta Force. I figured that training must be good for something. I got in the raft.
Don’t tell anyone, but I had fun. There’s even a photo of me smiling as we approach another swirl of death.
My only injury occurred when someone pointed at a flock of ducks and said, “Oh, look, ducks,” and I let go of my chokehold on the raft just as we hit another round of rapids. My knee slammed into the wooden plank the best man was sitting on. I still have the scar.
Don’t get me wrong — white-water rafting is dangerous. This point was made clear when we pulled off to the side so our guides could rest. Their idea of resting included cliff diving. Three of the Wyoming boys took turns jumping off of a cliff about 10 feet high, while one strong, Delta-type person waited on the side with a long rope and a buoy tied to the end. Delta Boy threw the buoy to the jumper (in this case, the groom) so he wouldn’t be washed away. The groom missed the buoy the first time, and it had to be re-thrown. He’s a great swimmer, but he started drifting downriver.
By the way, he was fine. The wedding proceeded as planned.
I tell this story because since that trip, I’ve been a lot less scared. I recently flew overseas (all by myself) just a few days after switching denominations (all by myself).
It’s kind of got me worried, this all-by-myself thing. Should I be scared that I’m getting sort of good at it?
FYI, if you live in Waco, there’s a companion piece to this story, also about the Wyoming wedding, in my column, Musings.