Bend-in-the-River: A Sequel to '49 And I Ain't Budging'

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I sat in the middle of the river for a long time — allowing myself whatever time I needed before returning the rocks. From this vantage point, the downstream portion of the river veered off to the left making it impossible to see what course it followed beyond the bend. I especially loved looking in this direction, and had no need to know what lay ahead. There was a heavy resignation about relinquishing the rocks. One of the original 3 rocks was flat and perfectly round. I was very attached to it in a way I didn't understand and my heart ached to think of letting it go. When the time came to throw the rocks back into the river, tears ran down my cheeks despite the fact that I had no inkling about the meaning of this ritual. I washed my face in the river water and did not need to understand — the process was what had been important.

At one point, my perspective suddenly shifted and instead of being caught up in my internal feelings and symbols, I saw myself as an outsider would have — a 50-year old woman, sitting in the middle of a river in mid-December, clad in sweats and socks, alternating between pouring water on herself and examining or throwing river rocks. I laughed heartily and was relieved to realize that whatever had been relinquished that day, it had not been my sense of humor and ability to laugh at myself.

A Final Note

I have no idea what I did out there today. I probably never will. I never have known the significance of the numbers 7 or 3 and this experience didn't bring me any closer to that understanding. I do know, however, that something important happened during that experience in the river. Something that changed some fundamental aspects of me which will remain forever changed. Something that made being 50 a little more OK. Perhaps I let go of certain events or feelings from the past. Perhaps I let go of ways of being that no longer serve me. Or perhaps it wasn't really about letting go at all, but rather more about a willingness to let go even when I don't know what it is that's being relinquished. To be lead by faith even when I neither understand the present nor have a sense of the future.

So as I sit here on my birthday, still feeling like the label of 50 doesn't quite belong to me, I wonder what my decision would be if I had been given the choice about aging — if by some magic stroke, I could choose to stay young forever, with all it's pros and cons. My answer is that it depends. If it were possible to have smoother rocks on a newer mountain range, then yes, I would choose that. But as long as it's an either-or choice, I'll choose to keep moving along, allowing myself to be gently pulled and guided by the next bend in the river.