I Can’t Do That. . .Or Can I?

By on March 27, 2013

Sometimes life is full of “I Can’ts.” It’s much easier to quit than try. Below is an excerpt from chapter eight of my book, “I’m Too Young To Be This Old,” where I share a time when I had to do more than try; I had to overcome my fears.

I Can’t Do That . . . or Can I?

“Do you want to go whitewater rafting on the Rogue River?” asked Jim. “A group of friends from work is going and they’ve invited us to join them.”

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“That sounds great,” I responded, my mind filling with pictures of us floating lazily down the river under a scorching sun, the gentle spray cooling our hot, relaxed bodies. Not being the camping sort, however, one thought disturbed me. “Jim,” I asked cautiously, “will there be indoor plumbing at the campsites along the river?” One look at the amused smile on his face, and I knew the answer.

The trip began just as I had imagined. The sun burned hot, spray blew in our faces, and the oarsmen rowed quietly. A blissful experience. As hawks drifted overhead and the stillness of the forest embraced us like a soft blanket, my disturbed thoughts of living without the comforts of civilization slipped away.

The raft Jim and I were assigned to was loaded with heavy boxes tightly lashed to the frame and filling up a third of the space. They contained the group’s supplies for our three-day trip. To keep up his strength, our oarsman, a wiry, middle-aged man, took frequent sips from a bottle wedged into a small space beside him. I never did find out what was in the bottle, but I doubt that it was sparkling water.

Before too long, a dull roar broke through the silence.

“What’s that?” I asked, trying to sound nonchalant. “The first rapids,” Jim replied excitedly. “Now the fun begins.”

In a matter of minutes, the raft began to buck like an unbroken colt. Leaping high in the air, crashing down, bending in half and lurching forward, we rushed headlong into the first set of rapids. With split-second timing our oarsman expertly maneuvered the raft between rocks. Then, without warning, we slammed into a huge boulder the size of an army tank. As we turned around to see if the other rafts were safe, the one behind hit us at full force, jamming us farther up onto the rock.

“We’re stuck!” shouted the oarsmen above the roar of the rapids. “You’ll all have to get out.” Stumbling and slipping, I obeyed, climbed up to a flat area and looked out over the churning river. The worst of the rapids were behind us, but now we were marooned in the middle of an endless stream of rushing water.

“How are we going to get off?” I asked Jim, my voice trembling. I didn’t have to wait long for the answer. Shouting at the five of us huddled on the rock, the oarsman said, “We can’t let you get back in the rafts. We won’t be able to pull them off the rocks. You’ll all have to swim to shore. Get down by the edge, lean back and let the current take you downstream. Your lifejackets will keep you afloat.”

Having inherited my mother’s lack of courage, I immediately panicked. “Jim, I can’t swim to shore, I’ll drown,” I cried. “I hate the water. Why didn’t anyone tell me this could happen? Can’t they send in a helicopter to winch us off this rock? Surely somebody can rescue us.”

Firmly, my stoic husband informed me, “No one knows we’re stuck on this rock. No helicopter is going to rescue you. You have two choices: Stay here on the rock or swim off like the rest of us.” Then, tenderly wrapping his arms around me, he added, “Don’t worry. You can do it.”

If you’re going to thrive in mid-life, you have to do battle with your fears, climb off your rock, and immerse yourself in the river of growth. Like swirling down the Rogue River minus a raft, saying yes to new experiences can appear very frightening. But not to expand the horizons of your experience at mid-life is to risk stagnating and closing in on yourself. With the other half of your adult life ahead of you, you’re too young to bury your abilities, give up your dreams, or settle in a rut.

What are you afraid of?




Originally posted on Inspiring Women to Thrive.

About Poppy Smith

Born in England to a non-believing family, Poppy grew up there and in Sri Lanka, Singapore and Kenya. She met her American husband in Nairobi and they soon moved to the United States. The adjustment to her new marriage and new country, combined with loneliness and the loss of all that was familiar, brought Poppy to a defining moment with God. The resulting change, from anger to acceptance, from fighting God to seeking Him, led her into a life-long love of Scripture and the One it reveals. Her website: http://www.poppysmith.com/.

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I Can’t Do That. . .Or Can I?