I have a love-hate-love relationship with water. Water, in a sense, gives life. It can also take it away. Last fall, I almost drowned on my first canoe outing. The face to face encounter with my own mortality rocked my world and I am still working through various manifestations of PTSD. One thing is a clear goal for me.
I don’t want to go through the rest of my life being afraid of water.
The near drowning incident happened early in the float and the rest of the trip was filled with multiple incidents of poor “waterman-ship” on the part of my guide. (Lesson learned- vet and double-vet anyone you get into a boat with! Trust in situations like this is not your friend.) We were in the middle of nowhere and the only way out was through, as it were. There was nothing for it but to continue and hope to get out in one piece- still breathing. I remember, in brief, ragged images that the river was beautiful. I remember multiple springs, blues and greens and brilliant yellows where the sun sparkled through the water. There were tiny fish swimming in fluid schools through waving grasses, now silver in the sunlight, now inky blue in shadow. Flashes of tremendous peace and wonder that punctuated what was for me a passage of sheer terror down that river.
I obviously made it out still breathing but not in one piece. I have felt “shattered” since the trip and the sheer terror aspect of it all has held me captive in the months since I found myself trapped in a relentless current underneath that canoe. I would like to move through that (beyond it?) and be able to appreciate- even, perhaps, one day, experience- the peace and beauty of water again.
(© Karen Opp. All rights reserved.)