THEY SAID IT, I LEARNED FROM IT

“Not now. I’ve got a river to run.”

It’s important to enjoy the trip of life. There are some individuals who manage their own trip thoughtfully and carefully enough to ensure others navigate successfully as well. These people are essential in every organization.

Wilson Creek Gorge, North Carolina

Rivers and life seem to go together. I am expert on neither, but enjoy them both.

The metaphors and parallels and analogies of lives and rivers are plentiful. The headwaters of a river, much like the beginning of our lives, are often inconspicuous. Depending, of course, on what we do downstream, our lives will experience violent rapids or have episodes as calm as an eddy. Most likely, we will encounter both.

It’s how we run the river of life — not what we encounter along the trip — that seems most important.

Dave Weeks knows how to run life’s river. Along the way, Dave has learned that helping others navigate the journey makes his passage more fulfilling. His example of service to others is exemplary. I’ve watched him drop what he’s doing to help on a moment’s notice. At other times, I’ve seen him plan for time to be part of the solution when someone else has a need.

Observing him has been an inspiring view.

His acts of simple service are numerous: advising young people on physical fitness, volunteering to be part of moving crews, coaching basketball, cutting wood, raking leaves, visiting the shut-in, cooking spaghetti for fundraisers, manning the yardage markers at Aberdeen High School football games. I could go on, but you get the picture.

In his spare time, Dave is a ballistics guy, athlete, husband, father, grandfather, math whiz, church volunteer, master of music lyrics, and cyclist. In his younger days, he was a trapper (yes, that kind of trapper: the Jim Bridger of Harford County, Maryland).

Fortunately for me, I’ve spent a fair amount of time with Dave. A portion of that time has been on rivers. We’ve run whitewater together with our sons and other young men on the Nolichucky River in East Tennessee, the Youghiogheny in Pennsylvania, the Gauley River and the New River in West Virginia, and the Wilson Creek Gorge in western North Carolina.

The scenery has been incredible and the lessons from Dave indelible.

On every trip, Dave has consistently been Dave: helping others, always lending a hand, and doing good stuff (even when he doesn’t realize anyone is watching).

On one trip, an adventure on the class V rapids of Wilson Creek, he made one of the most “un-Dave-like” statements ever. While he said it in jest, it has stuck with me.

Wilson Creek is anything but a creek. The water is challenging and requires a lot of work to stay afloat. Boatbuster and Thunderhole are back-to-back drops with some serious rapids. Triple Drop, Maytag, and Ten Foot Falls speak for themselves.

Triple Drop, Wilson Creek Gorge, North Carolina

The approach to one of the final rapids — Razorback — is a fairly complex rock garden that requires some navigational skills. Dave and I were the last two in our group to approach the rock garden. One member of our group, Andy, found himself wedged on a rock. He was concerned he wouldn’t be properly positioned to enter the Razorback rapid.

As we approached him, he yelled to Dave for help. Dave’s reply was quick and firm:

“Not now, Andy! I’ve got a river to run.”

This statement was antithetical to everything Dave represented. It was also hilarious.

Needless to say, Dave had taught me yet another lesson. I’ve wondered since that day on the water how many times — both spoken and unspoken — I’ve sent the message of “not now, I’ve got a river to run”.

It’s easy to justify saying “not now”. Work can be like whitewater. Assignments come in rapid succession like Boatbuster and Thunderhole. Unexpected drops cause us to focus inwardly. The calm of the eddy seems better reserved for security and relaxation than for service. Avoiding hazards like undercut rocks and hidden logs are times for self-preservation, not for lending a hand. Oh, the excuses…

Dave doesn’t seem to have excuses.

Like the rest of us, he has a river to run. Along the way, he never says “not now”.

Written by Craig Halsey

They said it, I learned from it is a compilation of lessons learned from the things I’ve heard people say over the course of my lifetime. It’s amazing what you can learn when you listen. Watch for They Said it, I learned from it every Friday in The Weekly Hodl. It’s perfect reading while you enjoy your second breakfast. Sign up today.

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