In the middle of the night, I go walking in my sleep
From the mountains of faith, to a river so deep
I must be looking for something, something sacred I lost
But the river is wide, and it’s too hard to cross
And even though I know the river is wide
I walk down every evening and I stand on the shore
And try to cross to the opposite side
So I can finally find out what I’ve been looking for
Totally excited to experience the much heard river rafting in Bali, Indonesia, I walked through the jungle, nearly 600 steps down, holding the oar in my hand. The helmet fit snugly on my head as we walked through the dense leaves, on the unexplored but virgin path, excited to know what lay in store and finally seeing the gushing river flowing below us. The colorful rafts bobbed gently, disciplined into behaving by their owners before they got pushed into total free flow to take on a ride very much beyond their control. A ride determined and decided by the ever flowing river, interspersed by the deep rooted rocks.
A short and sweet instruction by our 20 year old guide was that, row front or backward when I instruct, place the oars down when the river pushes itself and no matter what, don’t try to push too hard and displace yourself in case of emergency. The river loomed dark but inviting, trees and shrubs lining the sides as we set on. Four of us sat nervous but excited in the raft while our guide nonchalantly pushed the orange bubble into the water and told us to start rowing. We began the row, front and back as he told us to till finally the current took charge and took us in it’s stride.
The raft wobbled up and down, both terrifying but managing to excite as we crashed against rocks, scraped against the rock walls, bumped into other rafts and even stopped to help another rafter who had toppled off. We stood waiting at the folds till he found his way back in and started off. A 10 kilometer journey where sounds of fear were intermingling with laughter and giggles as rafts passed each other, people teasing and playing by splashing water on one another. Nervousness soon gave way to confidence as now even without instruction, the mind knew just how to behave when rocks stopped the boat midway or the ripples took it zooming down the curve.
The amazing ride got me thinking, isn’t it just like life. We have no clue what lies in store for us but we plan, and caution and try safeguarding our hearts and minds against all sorts of obstacles or issues that we might encounter in our way. Soon that fear overtakes the courage as we let our enthusiasm to experience newer things take a backseat convincing our minds that it’s better to stay sheltered in our cocoons cause flying out of the nest will only lead to complications. Just like that river, estimating that rocks will block our paths, we forget our potential and ability of facing challenges.
The half way mark came on after we crossed a huge waterfall which crashed like a mini cyclone in the water, looking dangerously but still invited us to get off the raft to let the raging water take us completely in it’s embrace as we experienced pure unadulterated joy. The story of Ramayana had been carved on the rock walls which we watched in amazement, wondering how the artists had managed this amazing feat. By now we had settled into the ever changing rhythm of the river, which had enabled us to absorb the raw beauty around us. Isn’t that what happens when we allow our minds to stay calm which help us take in from our environment which otherwise our aggressive and hurried brains refuse to acknowledge.
The sounds of birds were prominent as were the gurgles and ripples of the flowing water and the occasional swoosh of the leaves. A fellow traveler started singing in native Chinese and even though it was foreign, the sound soothed the ears as her happy energy filled us all with the same feeling. 5 people in that raft who belonged to three unique countries and spoke different tongues but that moment unified and bonded as one team, out to complete this journey, teaming ourselves to push or pull as the current demanded, substituting where one lacked in strength or needed that extra push.
The boat ride ended and now began the journey of climbing up the 700 steps. The exhilaration and enthusiasm subsided, as the aches and pains started cropping up. Encouraging each other to push on, letting the oars help us, we heard our 20 year old guide express his dreams of wanting to work in a cruise ship. Bali the place on the bucket list of many seemed to him the prison he wanted to escape from. He wanted to experience the vastness of the world, glimpses of which his job as a guide had helped him to. Plus he claimed, cruises meant better tips and beautiful women which we all laughed to.
His innocence took us all in the time when we aimed for the stars and did not let thoughts of what ifs and impossible cloud our judgment or smother our dreams. The Chinese couple accompanying us were 62 and 65 years old and still aimed to travel to as many destinations they could. Kids settled in Canada, and retirement from hectic work lives had finally given the the opportunity to explore the dreams they had collected and kept safely over the years. And they were now wasting no time to make them come true.
Wet, tired, kind of limping, we finally reached our docking site where we placed our oars and helmets, and looking back at that amazing experience, the one thought that came to my mind is, let the days flow into their own rhythm, let the winds decide my course and keep my prayers going to let whatever destiny holds for my fate to flow freely to me without fears, apprehensions and doubts. This journey had been venturing into an unknown and explored zone but ended up leaving me thirsting for the more of that adrenaline rush. My river of dreams was waiting for me to step into the mystifying waters and let the journey unfold the mystery by itself.