When ‘Intense’ Can’t Quite Describe the Weekend

When I was younger, my emotions had too much control over me and I was just along for the ride. As I gradually learned (from books, professors, friends, scripture, and figuring out myself), I could kick the emotions out of the driver’s seat and steer my life. I found greener pastures.

If I hadn’t taken this control, this last weekend would have been intense.

Wait. Intense would be an understatement.

I don’t know the word to describe how extreme my emotions could have been this weekend. But with me in control, it made for an amazing several days and I LOVED IT. I reveled in all of the fervor: from excitement to fear to sorrow to joy.

So now that I’m in such a great mood, it’s like some sort of joyful boulder is gaining momentum and life keeps getting better and better. It’s so rich I couldn’t possibly put it into words. I wish that I could just show you a picture that I saw this weekend, hanging at my friends’ house.

It’s a picture of my friend, Zach, ten days before he died. His parents showed it to me (again), proudly hanging on their wall and reminded me that it was the last picture taken of him. It’s a perfect last picture, too: Zach, standing up at the front (horn) of a white-water raft, holding on to a rope, big smile on his face, while he rides through Big Kahuna. It’s a picture of somebody who didn’t just live from one day to the next but climbed to the front and conquered it. That was somebody who steered their life to some incredible adventures in only 18 years.*

On Saturday, my friend, Craig and I were riding the Snake River in a two-man duckie, approaching the same rapids called Big Kahuna. I should have paddled hard, but instead, I was frightened by the white water that was suddenly piled up over the top of my head. As soon as we hit the class three rapid, I froze up and couldn’t react. The swells tossed me off of the boat, leaving Craig without weight in the front and quickly flipped the raft, dumping him as well. I came up for a breath and the raft was on top of me so I reached up to move it as I went back under again. I came up for a breath again and another rapid was gulping me up. So I waited a little longer before I finally came out of the rapids and caught my breath while gripping the paddle in one hand, the raft in the other, and still racing down the river in the fast current.

My friend, Jeremy, happened to be up there taking pictures. He posted some of them on Facebook. The picture of my ride through Big Kahuna doesn’t even compare with Zach’s. He’s conquering the world and all you can see of me is my paddle, poking out of the white waters. I clearly need to work on my courage.

*In case you may have assumed that Zach died because of white-water rafting, let me tell you that he didn’t. Here’s the archived story.

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