Just Keep Paddling


There we were, my stepdaughter, Ami, grandson, Josh, and I on a little raft in the midst of a roaring rapid as we paddled and floated down the Roaring Fork River in Aspen, CO.  We were in one raft while my husband, Joe and our granddaughter, Emily, occupied a “duckie” (a smaller craft then ours).  And our son-in-law, Andy, along with our eldest granddaughter, Alix, travelled in yet another “duckie”.  We were quite a flotilla – cruising down the river side by side.

The guide in my raft, strong and skilled, sat in the back doing most of the hard work.  But her three passengers worked our oars according to her commands: “forward”, “back”, “strong, strong STRONGER”

It was a gorgeous ride as we travelled the eight or so miles down-river on a spectacular summer day.  The river was low, which made the trip a bit of a challenge as we worked to avoid rocks that popped up ready to catch our raft or tip us over.  And it was fun – a wonderful adventure to share as a family and certainly one that will become one of those life-long memories. 

There were several stops along the way, including one in which we could disembark and go swimming in the river.  Yikes!  It was frigid!  But the kids braved the ice-cold water and had a blast.  And at these stops we were also given a “heads-up” as to what to expect by way of rapids that we would encounter.

It was the very last leg of the journey that held the most adventure, for we were going to work our way over a waterfall (albeit a little one) where the water would be churning white.  This is a spot, we were told, where many rafters found themselves in the water – whether they wanted to be swimming or not.  I was, admittedly, a bit nervous, especially after having seen how cold the kids were when they went for a dip at that last stopover.

I had no choice, of course, but to forge ahead and put on a brave face – no way was I going to let the grandkids know that “Grams” was a wimp!  Suddenly we were there – at the waterfall, working our way through the rapids.  And our intrepid guide was calling her commands to us, “keep paddling forward and strong, strong, STRONGER!”

And I realized what a perfect metaphor for life this was.  When we are caught in a rough patch we have three choices: we can drop the paddles and give up, we can try to paddle backwards to the past or we can keep going forward with strength and determination.

It is going forth that will bring us through the tough waters, help us reach the other side and allow us to continue on our paths – wherever they might lead.

It had take but a few seconds to traverse the swirling waters (and quite amazingly we all remained in the raft).  But the lesson that I learned that day will stay with me forever. I hope it will remain, as well, in the hearts and souls of my family who shared that amazing experience with me.

It’s a life lesson that will serve us all well:

When you find yourself in swirling waters and life appears to be spinning out of control, just keep paddling - forward and strong - till you find yourself safely on the other side.

C.J. Golden, author of TAO OF THE DEFIANT WOMAN, and the award winning TAO-GIRLS RULE! is a motivational speaker who travels the country inspiring all with her dynamic spirit and vision as she helps others walk their ever-evolving paths of life with more ease, joy and vitality.  Her unique, personal approach combines Taoism (acceptance of changes that occur naturally in life) with a good dose of modern day defiance (defying stereotypes, negativity, and self-limiting behaviors. Visit CJ Golden at www.taogirl.com


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