Stop Paddling


I’ve been thinking of life as a float trip. The kind where everybody has a big tractor tire inner tube. Sometimes people lash several together but most folks drift along in their own tube, paddling with their hands if they want to change direction.

Friends and family might float nearby for a while, where we can see them and talk to them. Then someone gets a job in Boise or files for divorce and we don’t see them again. And some leave the river altogether. Correction, everyone leaves the river eventually.

When I reflect on my time on the river, I realize how much time I spent paddling. Paddling toward some people, away from others. Paddling toward the calm parts of the river… and frantically away from the rapids. When I found a “good” spot, I paddled hard to stay there.

My tube has some patches these days and my PSI is down a little but I’m still afloat. And I’ve just about stopped paddling. This first year of retirement gave me lots of time to think and I came to the conclusion the paddling didn’t make much difference. All it did was make some noise, get everyone around me wet, and made my arms tired. So I’ve stopped paddling.

“Sure, you retired guys can stop paddling but what about those of us still in the race?”

I won’t tell you not to paddle, I’m just saying I don’t think it makes much difference. When I found myself on a really good part of the river, I had gotten there because that’s where the current took me, not because I paddled hard or knew the river so well.

It won’t be easy to stop paddling because it happens mostly in my head and I can be in full Michael Phelps mode before I realize it. But when I do… it’s hands up, out of the water… relax and lean back… and enjoy the ride.