04 November, 2007

My Nemesis is a Rope.

A simple rope redefined my life. It all started a couple of weeks ago when I, as an unsuspecting pawn, trailed along behind Peter, Paul and Guenter…and no Guenter is not to be mistaken for Mary. Peter and Paul had a class of kids from Switzerland coming to Native Spirit the following day just for one day. They were going to have the kids cross the Inn River in a large inflatable boat to the other side where they would then hike up to a flat spot, cook out and do nature things. What Peter needed was for the boat to be paddled across the Inn with one end of a rope while he hung on to the other. Once the rope was tied off on both sides then the kids would be able to safely make their way across with limited paddling. Another reason was that it had rained recently and the river was rushing very very fast and they may not be able to make it across before getting expelled further down the way.

Well, instead of going into town to rent a movie Guenter and I joined, Paul in the raft and I tried not to let the freezing cold water touch me. By this time, it was around 6 PM and the sun had sunk behind the mountain hours ago. Peter pushed us off and we were catapulted downstream. We were paddling as hard as we could and almost made it to the other side but we were so far downstream that we had run out of rope and Peter had to let go of his end. We got back to our side of the river and pulled the boat back to the starting point. This time, I suggested that since Peter is about 1000 times stronger than me AND is a certified river guide, that maybe he should be the one in the boat while I stayed dry on shore holding the rope.

It was agreed upon and with the 3 men on board they made it to the other side, but not without a struggle and having me run along the tree tangled rocky cliff-like shoreline down stream as not to loose my end of the rope. By this time it was getting darker and the rope was getting heavy from the force of the water. Paul had one end of the rope on one side of the river and it was so hard to keep it taunt that every time it plunged into the water it would practically pull me in. I finally wrapped it around my waist once because my strength was giving out. The men then decided that they needed the rope further up creek at the original starting point, SO with Paul on one side and me on the other we slowly made our way back. On both sides were rocky ledges leading into the water with knarled trees jutting out here and there, so in the quickly fading light it was very hard to maneuver my way back.

At one point the rope plunged into the river pulling me off my feet and into the Inn. The water was freezing as it soaked me to my knees and I quickly jumped back on shore. By that time it was dark and I could hear the men yelling on the other side, but the river was so loud that I could not hear them. Then I heard Paul say the words that would have caused me to kill him if he was standing next to me. He said “Melinda, keep the rope out of the water.” I held my tongue and kept plodding slowly forward over trees and rocks grasping for any kind of support I could hold onto. As Paul informed loudly over the sound of the river of the importance of keeping the rope taunt, I really wished that he had not learned the English language. After the 3rd time, I screamed back at him my reply…something like “no kidding”….or maybe it was a bit more harsh with some words thrown in that would have gotten my mouth washed out with soap had I been young. We finally made it back to the original starting point which was a bit wider than where we were and I suddenly realized that my end of the rope would not reach any tree strong enough to tie onto. I yelled at the men to give me more slack. They were deliberating about something so I hung on and waited. At this point I was cold, tired and wet but really feeling proud of myself that I had made it all the way to where I was without letting go of my end.

All of a sudden I heard Peter yell something that sounded like “let go of the rope”. I thought for sure I misunderstood him so I yelled back “WHAT?” and this time it was unmistakable “Melinda, let go of the rope.” I was dumbfounded! Let it go?? I had just dragged the damn thing for a half an hour or more upstream in the dark by myself; I was certainly not going to let it go now. I yelled back that just give me a little more rope and I can make it to something that I can tie it to. Once again came the reply of leeeeeet iiiiiit goooooo. I screamed at the top of my lungs “NOOOOOOOOO!” and then the reply, “Melinda, LEEEEEEET IIIIIIIIIIT GOOOOOOOOO!” I yelled some more mouth-washing-quality words and with all the strength I had left, I heaved my end into the river. I was so angry at that point that I started to cry, I figured what the hell; they can’t see or hear me so I will just vent my frustration the way my female hormones dictate. I laid down on the rocks and sobbed as I looked up into the night sky. I do not remember the last time when I had been so physically and emotionally spent. My whole body was hurting as well as my pride. I kind of felt like a failure although I knew what I had accomplished was a difficult feat. I could hear the guys yelling to each other across the river and knew they were probably as frustrated as I was, but that really didn’t comfort me like it could have.

As I laid there feeling sorry for myself, I suddenly realized that the rope had enormous symbolism. It stood for the parts of my life that I need to “let go of”. Even though I have relaxed about 100% in regards to control issues, I still had things that I contemplate too much and search for answers when only time can tell. In letting go of the rope I was in fact releasing the fears I carry around. I did not appreciate the way the lesson had to be learned, but of course life lessons are rarely all peaches and cream.

I made a bracelet of a small old piece of rope that I had found when I first arrived in September. I had kept the rope in my room and used it for numerous things whenever the MacGyver in me surfaced. It was currently not being used because its former job as a curtain tie had been eradicated. I twisted it into a braid like figure and tied it onto my wrist. I now wear it as constant reminder that whatever life throws at me, I can handle and I can carry uncertainty with me for awhile, but then there will come the time when I have to let go and allow the higher powers that be take over.

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