As some of you know, who are on Facebook with me, we went away for an Arizona adventure/ vacation. And boy, was it an adventure! From the day we landed in Phoenix we were outside hiking, climbing (and this means with a rope wrapped around my waist and belayed from above) and white water rafting on the lower Colorado; the river that travels some 1,450 miles from Colorado, forming the Grand Canyon in Arizona. The lower Colorado is the southern part of the Grand Canyon bringing us out into Lake Mead
There were many things about this trip that held milestones for me: that Dave gets to see that this outdoor-adventure-world he loves and seeks is also my world and what I have sought, and enjoyed, my whole life. Naturally, after only eight months together I wondered how we would get along with the stresses that exist in said activities. And the fact that I would get to be incorporated into Dave's world since his boys were joining us from Maine for the river trip and his best friend, Tom, (rock climbing and rafting buddy) of thirty plus years was our host out there in Arizona. From our third "date" Dave has been engulfed in my world and so I was looking forward to being more engulfed in his.
First off, it was a wonderful vacation and we all had a blast! Far too many stories and adventures to share in just one blog, but it was so wonderful to be out in the desert and to do all these activities with this man.
I got together yesterday with my good friend, KW, and showed her the pictures from the trip and told her all the stories. KW, being who she is, asked me, "What did you learn about yourself on this trip Mary?"
Wow ... nothing like going straight to the real stuff! But I did learn a lot about myself and this is what I shared with her and want to share with you.
The night before going on the raft trip (and our 5:00 a.m. departure time) I was looking at the books belonging to our friends daughter, whose room she had so generously offered us. As I scanned the bindings I watched my hand reach out and pull from the stack a book written by the Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, whose writings I'm familiar with. This particular book was about anger and was filled with simple thoughts on addressing this emotion. I allowed the book to just flop open and read what was on the page. This thought was about watering the seed of compassion or watering the seed of anger and how we can always choose which emotion we wanted to nurture and allow to grow.
Hmmm. I was not angry, nor had I really felt any anger, at this point in the trip but I thought this might be a really good intent to carry with me on our five day river trip.
Well, it was.
River rafting out west is different than back east. First off, you are days away from help and there really are very few other people on the river (we saw one other party pass us the entire time). Thus, there is a huge responsibility in keeping everyone safe. Of course, this understanding sat on the shoulders of our leaders, Dave and Tom. Second, the white water offers far bigger stuff then what is offered here in Maine. And third, it's not a walk in the park! Between loading all the gear for nine people into two rafts, unloading all this gear at each camp, setting up camp, cooking, cleaning up, breaking down camp the next day and reloading the damn boats only to do it all over again at the end of each day, after paddling for hours, .... it's a LOT of work! So certainly there might be times when patience runs short.
There was such an interaction between Dave and I that had me needing to walk away from the group and just find some quiet time for myself down by the waters edge. As I sat on a huge boulder, polished by the river below me, I found myself looking up at the canyon walls and then down at the surging green water. I was awed at what this ancient flow had carved out of the earth ... and at this moment I remembered Thich Nhat Hanh's teachings about anger. I realized I had the opportunity to put this teaching to work. I sat there knowing that I could water my seed of anger or I could allow the seed of compassion to sprout and take hold. Going into compassion meant that I had to let go of my own ego ... to not react to the situation, as is my normal pattern, but to allow the other persons emotions to wash over me and to hear them. I didn't need to be swept away by the current of his, or my, emotions but rather to be like the large boulders sitting in that volume of water and allow the emotions to just flow over and around me and allow them to drift away. As I went into this meditation I remembered all the stresses that were on the shoulders of this man I love and that I needed to offer him some slack and not come back hard and with my ego's anger blazing.
And what amazed me was ... it worked! I was able to break an old pattern of mine of hardening my heart, closing it off, feeling the anger give me strength in my own conviction and becoming stiff, rigid and uncompromising. Oh, I had used this far too many times with Jim over our years. But this time, I moved into a different space and opened my heart and softened my stance. I allowed myself to simply fill up and spill over, like a water fall.
Of course, this allowed for better communication when Dave came to find me so we could talk about what had happened between us. And we grew a little closer together after this.
So, this is what I learned about myself on the trip. And this is the lesson I want to create a whole new pattern around. This is how I grow spiritually and how I can change and be a better person.
One friend said to me "Oh, so the honey moon is over?" And I said, "No, the relationship has started to get real."
When you open up your life to the living
All things come spilling in on you
And you're flowing like a river
The Changer and the Changed
You've got to spill some over
Spill some over
Spill some over
Filling up and spilling over
It's an endless waterfall ...
Waterfall, Chris Williamson
Loving you all back,