Speaking of Bodies of Water (2 days ago), I realized I've never really been afraid of water. My mom used to tell me that when we got our boat I was one year old, and I crawled around on the deck, looking over the edge, hoping to catch a glimpse of the "wawee." I think they rigged up some sort of harness thing for me after that.
I've never been a great swimmer. I took lessons, but trying to coordinate the kicking with the arms and then the breathing was really quite a trick for me. I think I made it to the intermediate level, satisfied that if I ever fell in, I would know how to survive and keep myself afloat.
Thinking about all the recent flooding going on, I was reminded of another water experience I had in high school.
I was tubing down the Apple River in Wisconsin with a group of people. I had broken off from the raft of floaters and was drifting towards the shore. The water was high and swift, and there were tree branches hanging out over the water.
My tube suddenly got caught in one of the tree branches. My body was in the water through the center of the tube, and my arms hung over the top. I couldn't seem to maneuver around the branches, and the waves swirled around rising higher. I yelled for help as I struggled, but it would have been hard for anyone to help me. I tried hoisting myself upward, but I kept getting pushed back down by the tree branches overhead. I started to worry because I knew I'd get tired soon, and I'd be trapped under the tube.
What's the best solution here? I thought. So, then, my survival instincts kicked in (divinely motivated, I'm sure). The answer: Forget the tube, and follow the most unobstructed path. So, I let go of the tube, held my breath and went down under the water. The tube passed by over my head, and I felt the branches brush my hair as I floated by. I came up on the other side of the tangled tree branches, treading water as the current carried me along.
Someone caught my tube and returned it to me, and I hopped back on and continued my excursion, thinking I would stay away from the shore from then on. (!!)
"You looked like a trapped animal!" my friend said a little while later. Her eyes were wide.
Oh. I guess I didn't really think too much about it, because I was only afraid for a very short time. Life went on, and I forgot what had happened. But now that I think about it, if I hadn't acted in the moment, life might not have gone on, and someone else would have been telling this story.