Summer usually asks us to let go and be carried away by our senses. For a brief moment at the height of heat and sunlight, when the rains arrive and flowers begin to crowd the garden, I surrender. I put aside my work, my attachment to order and structure, and let myself drift.
It always feels strange–I don’t easily let go. It’s usually only when the wheel of the year is steadily turning, turning, and I can sense the passage of one season into the next that I realize it’s okay to belong to it completely. I can see that surrender is fleeting, and precious, and won’t take me too far off course.
Maybe the four day river trip we just took, floating down the wilderness section of the Rio Chama helped me see all this. To have the outer world mirror the inner always helps with navigating life.
We moved slowly through the day, carried by the river but trying not to move too quickly through the canyon. When the water grew still, we lifted the oars to spin and take in the view, to drift on flat water. We navigated the rapids and sleepers when they came. The girls chanted “It’s not over yet!” as we splashed through white water. Come afternoon, we tied the boat up when we arrived at a place that felt like home.
We’ve spent our share of time on the spectacular lower sections of this river, day tripping and camping and floating with improper gear. But I’ve always known there was something further up, inaccessible and out of sight. And I’ve been thirsty for it for a long time.
(Pause in which the blogger wonders what inner journey that longing and arrival correlates to.)
Turns out it takes years to gear up for the river with a Vanagon era (and size) boat. But while I’ve been busy with poems, someone around here had a vision and spent weeks repairing and preparing, arranging permits, amassing an impressive collection of straps, and learning to drive the boat.
We skipped the dinosaur footprint, the side hikes. Despite my pre-launch jitters, nobody was bitten by snakes, or swept away by the river. More and more, I need to choose trust in the goodness of the world over my fear of what harm it could bring. Running this river was like learning to float for the first time. I was surprised at how much work it takes to stop working and how good it feels when you do.
Sometimes, we travel the farthest when not moving.
Sweet summer drifting, friends. Let go while you can!
Ps: A couple of my poems landed on sweet shores and are part of a folio, “Sacred Americas,” from Anomaly (formerly Drunken Boat). The editor writes, “And don’t you know that the world has been remade, again and again?…This remaking is what I call the sacred.” These poems are medicine for our times.