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Pushing Rivers

By on Nov 3, 2014

Ray lifted bikes and placed them on top of his truck. I saw him wince in pain and grab his shoulder. Every time he starts to feel better, he does something stupid and reinjures himself.

I wonder if I’m pushing a river.

Decades ago in a past life I saved enough money for my dream vacation. I have a sailor’s heart, so I chartered a 53ft. sloop complete with a captain and cook. My goal was to sail from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Nassau in the Bahamas with my then-husband and our two young sons. I hired the Captain as back-up and the cook because I didn’t want to. But this was for me to sail and it seemed perfect.

The weather was kicking up a bit on departure day and the captain suggested we hold off a day before departing. I would hear nothing of it. We sailed away and within hours a full on tropical storm bore down upon us. Reefing sails, I plowed through the increasing swell.  I’m a decent sailor, yet in seas with a 10 ft. swell, I get seasick.  Heaving over the side of the boat, I strapped on a safety harness, ensured the kids remained in the cabin and sailed on.  The Captain repeatedly tried to relieve me of my duty at the wheel but I would hear nothing of it.

As the ship crested waves, I could occasionally see another ship ahead of us. I vomited and sailed on, doing all I could to catch the boat ahead. A full 12 hours passed, me sick the entire way. Nearing Nassau in the quickly fading light, dizzy from dehydration and unfamiliar with the harbor, I turned over the wheel to the captain. As we turned course, rounding a barrier island, there was the ship I had been desperately trying to catch.  It had run aground on a reef.  Tilted at a full 45 degrees, the occupants scurried into a life raft.

I was shaken, what if I had caught up with that boat? Would that be me scrambling to get my children off?  The week held other similar events and all turned out okay, but there were a half dozen really close calls.  On our return voyage, the Captain asked me what religion I was. “Taoist” I answered.  “No” the Capitan responded shaking his head. “A Taoist lets the river of life take them where the river flows.  You are trying to push the river. You are a rebellious Taoist”

Those words had stayed with me for 30 years. I admit, he was correct. I do try to tell rivers where to go.

As I think about this whole trip I wonder, am I pushing a river? I did not leave a year ago because I met Ray. In the course of training for this ride, I have repeatedly asked myself if I was strong enough and wondered. Then, in our very first training ride together, Ray crashed and broke his collar bone.  Now we are in Australia, supposedly to let him heal, and he topples again onto the broken bone. Daily acts cause him to wince.  Really Jeri? I ask myself, Is this ride that important? Where is the river?

Today I ride Carnarvon, by myself, and do a lot of thinking about the message in this sign.

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