The Last Rapid – Skate across America Day 127

February 8th, 2011



Distance Since last Update: 64 miles.
Total Distance for Tour: approx. 991 miles
LOCATION: Atlanta, GA
STATUS: Drumming up some speaking opportunities in Atlanta.

The Last Rapid

Inspiration is a funny thing, especially when you are inspired by the very people you thought you would be inspiring. I recently met with a CouchSurfing connection in Atlanta, Erynn, who’s helping to arrange some speaking opportunities while I am here. It was one of those encounters you don’t forget because of the sense of mutual growth upon leaving.


As I look back on what took place, I realize now that Erynn inspired me to do the same thing that I inspired her to do. We just didn’t know it. Erynn was inspired and excited about my adventure, and ultimately, I think the best advice I passed on to her was to have the guts to fully commit to decisions in her life. Like most of us, Erynn experiences a lot of stress because of decisions that are never fully made. Have you ever had such a hard time deciding what course of action to take that you simply didn’t make a decision at all? What usually ends up happening here is that we still end up taking one course or the other, but we feel guilty about the fact that perhaps we should have taken the other. It’s one of those “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” kind of things. I say, if you’re gonna be “damned,” than don’t hold anything back. If you’re gonna fail or succeed, fail or succeed with conviction. At
least, you will know you were awake and acting with certainty.


I had been talking about this for some time to Erynn, when I had to stop myself. You see, I realized that a lot of the difficulties I’ve experienced with this skate have come because I’m not following my own advice here. I have allowed myself to toy with the idea of quitting, when things got tough. The resoluteness that has marked this tour until now is the resoluteness that I need to regain. The truth is: I need to stop shopping for ideas or decisions and simply make one. I know what decision I need to make, and it sees my face pointed westward, my back bent against the wind, and my cause marking the way before me.


Erynn experienced something similar to this when she was kayaking on some dangerous rapids recently. You see, sadly, one of her good friends recently drowned in a bad rapid. He was experienced but had capsized on a nasty rapid and couldn’t get his boat upright again. Erynn and her friends showed some serious courage by getting back out on the river. However, on this particular day, that courage was faltering a bit. People had continually warned Erynn about the difficulty of the last rapid right before the “take-out,” and she was unsure if she should brave it. The entire way down the river, she questioned whether she would skip it. When the time came, Erynn had to make a tough decision: walk or ride? The recent death of her friend did not make this easy. No one could make the call for her, and there was no “right” answer. Her choice saw her with her paddle in the water braving the dangers of the last rapid. She nearly tipped at one point, but she mustered all of her strength to hold herself upright. She chose to go through the last rapid and acted on that choice. It was one of the greatest moments of her life.


What is your “last rapid?” What is your current rapid? More importantly, have you answered the question: “To paddle or to walk?” The decision is entirely up to you, but above all, do choose.

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2 Responses to “The Last Rapid – Skate across America Day 127”

  • avatar Pamela Miller:

    Hi Austin!
    Thanks for your text last week. I too lost a friend while in college to a similar kayaking accident. These waters were in new mexico.
    Resolve is resolve. Once its done – everything is black and white.
    I think you have it! Of course Life is grey. But black is black and white is white. This is not about success or failure. Its about resolve!
    Love, Pam Miller, Chapel Hill
    Carry on!

  • avatar Austin:

    Pam,

    Sorry to hear about your friend. It seems whitewater rafting carries some significant risks.

    I think you’re right on; while we adapt to our environment and situation, it is our resolve that can turn the grey into black or white.

    Thanks,

    – Austin

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