Tuesday, May 6, 2008

When the Sun Comes Out

This is the White River in Arkansas, a powerful, fast-moving, flood-gorged body of water that we braved in a raft last weekend while visiting Camille's parents' cabin in Mountain View. The 4-hour river rafting expedition began ominously. It was early morning and dark, with heavy gray clouds overhead, a wind that could drag a body out of a boat, and a frigid temperature of about 50 degrees. Brooke and I wrapped our bodies in everything we could find: towels, blankets, sweatshirts, jackets -- and still, every single part of me was numb. About two hours into the trip, when I thought I just couldn't get any colder, we met up with two other friends who'd taken a motorboat to go fishing, and they offered to pull us the rest of the way. We almost accepted, but stopped, determined to finish the trip the way we'd planned. And it was good we did. About 5 minutes later, the sun burned the clouds away and we reached a part of the river that blocked those awful winds. The water slowed its furious pace and the raft began a calm drift to our stopping point. I'd never been so grateful for sunshine in my life. The rest of the journey was beautiful, languid -- slow like no other part of our lives lately.

Since the trip follows on the heels of Andrew's struggles with the history dept to get his MA, followed by his eventual triumph in passing his thesis defense (go Andrew!), the whole experience got me to thinking about how it feels when the sun comes out. I'm not sure I'm a pessimist, but I catch myself talking more about trials and less about what it feels like to get past those trials. Not as much as I'd like, in other words, about what it feels like when the sun comes out. It's not that everything always turns out rosy, but troubles that plague me -- like my dog Sierra's $400 heartworm treatment -- are fleeting. I'd like to focus less on the bill and more on the fact that the dog can be cured. I'd like to focus less on the wind and more on the fact that the river did, eventually, slow down. This is as much of a challenging task as is facing the trials, when you think about it.

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