Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Grettona The Brave

What constitutes bravery?

Ramona was brave in her face-off with a neighborhood dog, when she threw one of her shoes at the menacing, approaching animal. The dog ended up running off with the thrown shoe. Now, we all know how I feel about I would probably call throwing the shoe more foolish than brave, but nonetheless! (God, I hope they weren't Pierre Hardy. Those are expensive.)

I was, surprisingly, labeled "brave" during a whitewater rafting experience in Peru - during which I was bounced out of the raft and into the bracingly cold rapids o
f the Urubamba River. The experience for me was somewhat surreal, and my thought process had gone a little like this:

Brain: paddle, paddle, GODDAMMIT the pooled water in the raft is freezing my toes! paddle, paddle; heading into big rock, BOUNCE...I was in the boat...and now I seem to be...out of the boat...hmmmm, that's notsogood.

And at that point I was struggling against the water, attempting to stand up, but instea
d having my shins banged against underwater rocks while Class IV whitecaps crashed into my torso. I eventually heard our guide yell something like "LET GO!" and I remembered in our training that we were supposed to just aim our feet forward, cross our arms over our chests, and let the current carry us. So I did that. It felt MUCH better than all the shin-banging, and even though I was then at the mercy of the river I wasn't frantic or stressed.

I had an absurdly confident kind of "I'm pretty sure this isn't how I'm supposed to die" thought process going, so I wasn't at all surprised when, after maybe 30-45 seconds of shooting down the river, our guide had powered our raft up close enough to reach out and grab onto my life vest and yank me back into the raft.

My friends were bug-eyed, gushing "OHMYGOD are you okayyyyyy????", and I was. I mean, I was freezing and violently shivering from the icy river, but still very okay. When we pulled up out of the raft and began our slow, still very shivery walk back to the van, one of my friends just looked at me incredulously and said "You are so brave. I would have had a complete meltdown if that had happened to me."

I didn't feel brave. I just felt cold. I thought about my reaction and thought "Well, what was the alternative, really?"

Life, much like that sassy Urubamba, is unpredictable. Sometimes things happen that go spiraling way beyond your control, and you just have to be "brave" enough to LET GO.

Although I don't advocate letting go of your shoes. Especially if they're Pierre Hardy, because, again, those are expensive.