This river has whitewater mixed with stretches of calm water.
|He joins his group on the river
early at dawn. The water stretches
far out of sight before him, inviting
yet concealing hidden dangers.
They take their places in the raft,
he at first letting the others row.
Starting out, the waters are calm, slow;
the ride is peaceful and easy.
Then the waters quicken and froth.
He takes a place rowing the raft.
The journey’s pace has increased.
The river is filled with rapids
and rough water. At these places
his young body rows hard to keep
control and weather the white waters.
The raft tosses him around roughly
at times as the rushing waters make
the raft twist and turn, bob and rise
until finally calm waters come again.
He can relax and let the raft drift
along with the gentle current
and enjoy the peace of the moment.
The sun is now high in the sky overhead.
They stop for a breather and nourishment.
It’s great to be alive on such a day!
Storm clouds now gather, threatening
to ruin the trip. Back on the river,
soon comes a hard, pelting rain,
filling the raft with cold water.
He rows and bails, rows and bails
until they escape the storm and return
to bright sunshine. Ahead lie more rapids
to navigate, for the river is a series of calm
stretches interrupted by white waters.
The day wears on. He paddles tirelessly,
keeping a watchful eye on the younger
passengers. Late in the afternoon they stop
and rest on the bank, admiring the scenery
surrounding them. Then it’s back to the river,
back to navigating whatever the river
may throw at them on this journey.
Finally, tired and exhausted, he makes it
to river’s end and brings the raft ashore,
as the sun is rapidly setting on his day.
As he climbs out onto the shore,
his back is bent, his joints arthritic,
and his hair now gray. He exclaims,
“What a great trip this has been –
fun, exhilarating, challenging, fulfilling.
Yet it was over all too quickly. It passed
too fast! How did I get to be old so soon
when I still feel so young and vibrant?
My, how I’d like to take this trip again.”
But you only get one trip down this river.
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