Years ago, as a whitewater guide newbie, I was struggling with the change from the more sedate Yampa and Green rivers of Utah to the roaring white water found in the Idaho Selway and Middle Fork rivers. The huge rocks and back eddies were terrifying. Trying to control two tons of rubber raft, equipment, and passengers with two sticks called oars was at times beyond my capability. Yet, as I watched the senior boatmen in their boats, they seemed unperplexed and almost effortless in their maneuvering down the river through all of the obstacles.
On the other hand, it seemed the harder I worked at missing the rocks and staying out of the back eddies the more problems I had. Then it happened. I saw the water crashing into the sharply jagged edge of a large boulder. No matter how hard I pulled on the oars the inevitable happened. There was the awful ripping sound of the boat as the rock tore a four-foot-long gash in one side of the boat, letting the air rush out.
With my wounded pride, the traumatized, discouraged passengers, and a boat barely afloat, we limped into camp. When the repairs were made and the passengers were off telling others of the terror they had experienced, I went to the Senior Boatman and poured my heart out. I said that there was no one working harder at rowing and struggling to miss the rocks. Yet, I seemed to be the one hitting the rocks.
He asked me a simple question. “What are you focusing on?” In frustration and with outstretched hands I shouted, “not hitting the d**!! Rocks!” His statement forever changed my life. He simply said; “There is your problem. You are focusing on the rocks; I focus on where I want to BE.”
As I visit with literally hundreds of people, I see those that are struggling every day, burdened down with all of their concerns for the economy, the political environment, and other frustrations, including their lack of resources. They become immobilized. Yet, others who are faced with all of the same challenges are focused on where they want to BE. They simply change their course and set their sights on the goal. They are aware of and have concerns, but they are not consumed by them. They are focused on where they want to BE.
There will always be challenges, concerns, and even frustrations; however, the questions that I lay before you are simply these: What is it that you want and what are you going to do to obtain it? Focus, determination, and diligence are tools with which to obtain what is wanted. OSR provides a clear pathway to self-reliance, not necessarily an easy path, but one where new friends are to be found and hope for a brighter, safer and healthier future are obtainable.
Philip J. Gleason