The whitewater rafting guide is giving us the de rigor safety lecture. The guides at the US National Whitewater center have given it so many times that it is more performance art than lecture. This makes watching it each time you want to go rafting endurable.

There is a particular phrase they use once they come to describing what to do if we ‘find ourselves in an out-of-raft experience’ (aka flipping out of the boat and flying down rapids ourselves without a boat). The phrase is that we must become ‘active participants in our own rescue.’ In other words, help them get our water logged buts out of the water!

It’s amazing to me how many people don’t help themselves and sometimes in fact work against the very people trying to help them. This is true of any undesirable situation, be it falling out of a whitewater raft, sitting in a job that you hate, or not meeting goals that you’ve set for yourself (getting in shape, saving money, starting a new business, etc.) For the sake of this article, let’s refer to being in any place – physically, mentally, or metaphysically – that you’d rather not be in as a ‘Out of Raft Experience.’

Options in an ‘Out of Raft Experience.’

  1. Complain
  2. -This option, while the most popular, is also the least effective. For one, most people, even your good friends don’t care citing “consent of the victim.” Ex. Well, dumbass, you got into a tiny raft going down rapids, didn’t you see this coming? And besides, complaining underwater is unwise, you’ll drown. Please extend this metaphor to other ‘Out of Raft Experiences.’

  3. Go With the Flow
  4. -Very Zen-like, this next most popular course of action. You fatalistically determine that ‘what will be, will be’ and you accept your fate without so much as issuing terms of surrender. The problem here is that, while you will likely survive the rapids directly ahead, there are more to come that you may not. In the case of the Whitewater center, there are 7 giant turbines that individually can suck one Olympic sized pool dry per second. If you don’t get out, they will have little trouble adding you to the mix.

  5. Look for Help and Get Back in the Boat
  6. – In life, as at the Whitewater center there are guides, lifeguards, and your own boat-mates that are trying to help you out. Pay attention! Look around! Do go where the guide is pointing you. Grab the paddle that your friends have extended. Hook on to the rope that the lifeguard has thrown. If you just calm down you will see that you have many options. Just be calm and act rationally. And help save yourself.

For the fatalists, mystics, and especially religious out there who claim that there is a plan for everyone and it is not their place to act out, these claims may be tantamount to heresy. Allow me to end this article with a story I once heard.

There once was an elderly priest who lived on a volcano. One day, that volcano erupted and everyone in the town was evacuating. The local sheriff came to the priest and said “Father, let me help you come down.” The priest refused saying ‘No my son, the Lord will surely save me.’ The sheriff left shaking his head.

Later on the National Guard came by and said to the priest “Father, come with us, we can save you.” To this the priest replied ‘No my son, the Lord will surely save me.’

Not long after, fire and lava surrounded the priest. A helicopter rescue team flew over the priest and said “Father, climb this ladder, we can save you.” And of course the priest replied ‘No my son, the Lord will surely save me.’

Lava eventually engulfed the priest who died and he rose to heaven. The priest was happy to be at the gates of heaven but he was angry and called out to God ‘My Lord! Why did you forsake me? I lived a good life! Why would you let your servant fall to such a fate?’

God made himself known to the man and replied ‘My son, I sent you a sheriff, the Army, and a helicopter. Why could you not save yourself?’

Everyone has problems. Some of staggering proportions and magnitude. Some not. While not every problem has a solution, most do. I’ll bet that you have some nagging issues, unfulfilled goals, or other worthy causes. Why won’t you help yourself? How are you being an Active Participant in Your Own Rescue?

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Comments (2)

Well played Sir! I like how this analogy refers to life in general. Or at least it seems that that is what you’re trying to do. This does motivate me more to work harder at my Calculus as I feel I am just complaining to myself how difficult it is. There has to be a rope out there buried under the rapids that I can find. I just need a big enough shop-vac to find it.

That passage you spoke about was told to me a long time ago, only it ended with” God will not do for you what you should do for yourself”

Much like God, Friends will not do for you what you need to do for yourself.

Train hard, Work hard, play hard! DAS BOOT!!

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