Precarious

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“Life is a fragment, a moment between two eternities, influenced by all that has preceded, and to influence all that follows. The only way to illumine it is by extent of view.” (William Ellery Channing)

 

Taking a few moments out of the day I randomly picked a local town to visit: Enon NC. On my way to and from there, I noticed a sign for “Old US 421 River Park” just inside the Forsyth County line. This is a small park set on the bank of the Yadkin River and it features a few picnic tables, a couple of swings, a horseshoe pit and lots of area to just throw down a blanket and relax. The concrete pathway, however, caught my attention since it rolled down to the river.

Reading the sign posted by the walkway, this access point is a great jump off place to canoe, kayak or raft with egress at the Tanglewood Park Access. For the avid water seeker, this is a journey of 5.5-8 hours on a 15.7 mile stretch of the Yadkin River.

And yes, those are my shoes on a rail.

I almost left without taking this photo since the only “rail” was a metal handrail along the steps running down to the water. I had to decide whether to bother taking a photo and how precarious of a position I wanted to place myself in to get the shot.

I did not go to the end cross member but settled on one rung up from it. Placing my feet on the cross member and balancing on a single rail while taking a photo led me to reflect on the sanity of taking this picture as reality sunk in: the water was 5 feet below me, the hillside right above the water was steep, my balance has not been what it used to be, any swaying meant the smartphone would taste water, and the insects had finally found me.

But I accepted those risks and inconveniences ending up taking several photos. With some relief after dismounting the rail here’s what came to mind: 1) we sometimes do not go for the big risks due to the proximity of perceived fear; 2) we do on occasion accept smaller risks; 3) we do need to find our internal balance; 4) we must acknowledge and accept the possibility of loss; and 5) we learn something from the experience regardless whether the risk is taken or successful.

As Channing stated, we are “influenced by all that has preceded, and to influence all that follows.” Through the big river of life (aka “extent of view”) one infinitesimal moment of risk and decision may not stand out but it can be illumined and made clear through the passage of time.

Lessons from risks and inconveniences: 1) we sometimes do not go for the big risks due to the proximity of perceived fear; 2) we do on occasion accept smaller risks; 3) we do need to find our internal balance; 4) we must acknowledge and accept the possibility of loss; and 5) we learn something from the experience regardless whether the risk is taken or successful.