Working has been going great lately, at least to the point where I’m getting fully engaged with teams and challenging work assignments. I did (and still do) have concerns about the stress that might come and is always looking for ways to manage the work/life balance, and making sure I do stuff that is absolutely not related to work.
When my son’s scout troop announced they were going rafting, I was very excited.
Last time I went rafting was in 1994, sliding down Snake River (WA) and testing my rowing abilities in the class III rapids. To be honest, it was nothing like rowing the old Viking raid ships or sailing my optimist (dinghy) as a young kid. Rafting is hard work and white water rafting kicked my butt going down the Snake River. In fact, I was literally thrown off the raft on the last rapid, as the raft rolled into what felt like a class V rapid, and I was flung from the raft like a slingshot.
Although excited about the opportunity of getting payback, I was extremely nervous about the prospect of bringing my 13-year-old son onto a wild river.
Imagine if he got thrown from the raft? What if the river was wild and had class III-V rapids? Was this really a wise decision as a father or was it a selfish boyish decision?
Another thought struck after I had signed up and paid for the trip, would I be mentally comfortable going camping for 2 days / 2 nights where the hills have eyes, and somewhat removed from civilization?
One thing is to fly for 7 hours to Europe in business class, spending days with family and colleagues with easy access to hospitals. Another thing is to float down a fast running river, in the middle of nowhere, between Pensylvania and New York, where it would take rangers a while to get to me and get me airlifted to a hospital.
Deep inside I needed to go on this camping trip. Not just as a father-son trip, but also to really set my mind at ease that I’ve almost recovered from my incident in October last year.
So, my son and I packed the red truck (well I did most of the packing while he was sitting in the passenger’s seat looking cool, and then we headed off to meet the troop.
It was a sunny Friday afternoon. Windows rolled down and my 80s/90s rock playlist was filling the cabin with happy tunes.
A few years ago we bought a fairly cheap and one of these easy to set up tents in Walmart and our new room with a view was erected and beds made within 30 mins. of arriving at the campsite.
Let the man trip begin.
I had packed some healthy breakfast options for me, but I knew I had to accept the mandatory burger menu – we are camping after all.
My medication was in the cooler, so no risk of having a setback. I did inform the other adults participating in the camping weekend, and share in high levels my heart failure story. I felt it was only fair to let them know given we were about to spend 48 hours camping, but also reinforce that my cardiologists had cleared me so no need to worry.
As we embarked on the rafting journey, I did feel a little apprehensive but decided to leave the burden of anxiety on the shore and we paddled off into the sunrise.
It wasn’t River Wild or some insane rapid experience. Instead, it was a gentle rolling and floating down the stream, and my son was super proud and happy.
He was clearly enjoying the trip, and the opportunity to hang out with other boys, splashing water on each other and simply being a boy among mates.
My heart was overflowing with joy and these moments of seeing my son thrive with his newfound friends, who accepted him for what he is, made this trip absolutely awesome. This was the medicine for the heart I needed. Joy and happiness 🙂
The two days we spent with the scouts, and the time I got to spend with my son, have been absolutely priceless.
While I was scared at first, it was healing for my soul and my heart. I reached a new milestone and I feel stronger than before.
If you get a chance to do something similar, or just something that will give you the opportunity to heal, do it and follow your heart.