I took a friend river tubing yesterday. She had never been before and was excited to give it a try. It was a perfect day; sunny, warm and humid. About half way through our trip, I saw a man and a young boy standing in the center of the river, attired in full fly-fishing gear. I didn’t think much about them until we got closer, and the man was almost yelling at my friend who was ahead of me. I heard the words, “You should go around, rude, …” I felt a little confused and then he said the same things to me. It still had not registered that he was angry and so I joked with him saying, “We don’t have a lot of control on these things!” He would have none of that, and he sneered and sputtered as we floated by.
It was an upsetting episode. Very unlike the feelings that I usually have on the river. I actually felt shaken, and bad for the little boy who didn’t look up or say a word. I felt angry and indignant. I talked to Jack about it last night and had a realization about myself, and asked the question, “What could I have done differently?”
I did see them, way before we got to them, and made no attempt to go either way around. I had to admit that I had an attitude (just a little) about the people who fly fish in the middle of the day, on a very recreational river and expect us to go around them “like they own the river!” (that is the attitude I am talking about!) I always expect them to be somewhat negative, after all, we have completely different agendas; they generally want solitude, peace, and quiet, and we want movement, laughter, fun.
I really don’t like to admit this, but I could see the posturing attitude that I had. The “I am not backing down, or off, or going around you”, attitude. If he had been nice it would have been easy, but that should never be the determining factor for my behaviour. I could have avoided the unpleasant feelings that I carried for much of the rest of that float, by going around them.
I am glad that this episode happened yesterday. I must be ready to grow and drop this old, worn-out pattern that I wanted to believe I had moved beyond. When I was younger, I thought that backing down was a sign of weakness. I don’t see it that way now. There are some “confrontations” in life that must be taken on, should not be avoided, but this type of interaction is a choice. I don’t have to hit, head on, every “boulder in the river” anymore. Most I can float around.