5 Things That Won’t Bother You Anymore On A River Trip
May 25, 2012
In the wild, you’ll realize — and then forget — the nuisances of the ‘civilized’ world.
The reason they’re called “pet” peeves is because, well, we keep them.
They’re our little mongrels, our mutts of grudges and gripes. They’re hair-sensitive triggers that tap into our worser parts, and yet for some reason, even though we all know we have them, we’re unable to drop them off at the pet peeve pound and have them put to sleep.
Now, what you might not know: We all have “peeves” we don’t even know we’re keeping.
These are what I call the insidious little poisons of civilized life. They’re the things that, slowly but surely, over and over, wear away at our patience, our optimism, and our souls.
Fortunately, I’m here to preach to you, there is medicine for this. It’s a healthy dose of wilderness on a river trip.
But, wait, you ask: What are these mysterious, devilish ills of which I write?
Here’s what I mean. Here are 5 things that won’t bother you anymore on a river trip:
All these screens we’re staring at, if they’re not bad for us in and of themselves, they are certainly symptoms of an ill. Whenever I see people in a darkened room and their face is lit up by the pale blue light of a smartphone, a tablet, a laptop, a TV or a theater screen, I feel a tinge of sadness.
If all the texts on the phone are stressing you, if the emails coming through the tablet and laptop are piling up, if the TV news is making you mad at the world, and the theater is letting you down because Hollywood hasn’t come up with a decent, original idea since “Deliverance,” then take cheer. These things won’t bother you on the river.
Undoubtedly, there is someone in your life who is your foil — gets in the way of your success, your happiness, or just plain is a burr in the kiester. It might be your neighbor, or a politician whose ads seem to follow you. It might be a boss, a coworker or a client. I really hope it’s not a romantic partner or a kid.
You’ll be amazed, though, how quickly their memory fades when you start to study the way light plays on water. Listen to the metronome of the oars; it really is meditation. And, not only will you find that you’ve forgotten that nemesis of yours, I promise you you’ll return with the spirit and vigor it takes to rise above any pettiness that arises between people.
You might have read that the American worker has a longer week than just about everyone else in the world. Add to that, if you’re living in any developed area, you likely put up with rush hour traffic each day. (Those headlights are another kind of “blue light,” by the way.) You hear horns honking, people shouting. You’ve got your tight schedule, plus the kids’ schedules to juggle, and there are never enough hours in the day.
My recommendation for this is a dose of simplicity: Get up early, and wash your face in a pristine river. Eat well and drink strong coffee. Spend the day floating between water and sunlight, learning to feel at ease, even thrilled, by the power of natural forces much greater than we can command. Watch flames in a campfire. Count stars instead of streetlights.
Some people love to shop, I know. But I know very few people who love to pay bills. A lot of vacations — which I’ve previously shown to fall short of river trips on the satisfaction meter — while they might take you to beautiful places, they also make sure you never get to put your wallet away.
One of the many brilliant aspects of a river trip is that there’s nothing to spend your money on. In fact, you’re encouraged to leave it behind so you don’t lose it. So, there’s no swiping your AMEX until it’s hot. There’s no worrying if someone has change for a 20. There’s no worrying about enough coin to feed the meter or get through the toll booth. It’s all been taken care of once you get to the river. Just enjoy.
I’ll be the first to admit: I detest washing the dishes. Laundry, I can deal with. I will clean the bathroom, but really only out of guilt, shame and necessity. And if I could afford a stable of butlers, chauffeurs and personal assistants, as I’m sure you’d agree, life would be grand. But, in this regard, it’s not. For most of us.
These things won’t bother you anymore on the river, though. Not only do you leave house chores behind, but you enter a world where guides are more than cheerful and eager to do things for you. They love to cook you gourmet meals. They want you to relax by the fire as they clean up afterward (all they ask is that you wash your own plate & flatware). They’ll gladly get the kids up for breakfast while you snuggle an extra 10 minutes. This might be the closest we all get to handmaidens, so don’t miss the opportunity.