Saturday, December 15, 2012

Walking with outstretched hands

I am walking my path with outstretched hands.

I have heard it suggested, "when you meet someone, treat them as if they were in serious trouble, and you will be right more than half the time.”

Some of my fondest childhood memories are of spending time in and around Yellowstone National Park.  My family had a time-share that was split with my cousins.  Every summer in late July our family and theirs would descend upon a 2 bedroom condominium in Island Park.  About 12-17 of us would pack ourselves from floor to ceiling for a week of fun.  One of our favorite activities would be to go swimming at Firehole in Yellowstone.

Firehole has several natural hot springs that feed into the river that make it warm enough to swim in comfortably.  Just between 2 waterfalls a section of the river winds through some cliffs and widens out into a shallower spot that is ideal for swimming.  We would spend hours floating down from the rapids, jumping out of our favorite tree, and diving from the cliffs.


To get to the spot where we would jump from the tree or into the rapids you had to first swim across a stretch of river that moved very quickly.  When I was younger it was difficult for me to make it because of the fast current and I was not a strong swimmer.  I couldn't start farther upstream because of a dangerous whirlpool (about half my family nearly drowned in it at one point or another) and if you didn't make it across, the current got stronger and would pull you further down river through a narrow gap before it slowed down and opened up into a wider and shallower spot where you could safely swim out.

The first time I decided to try and cross it took me several minutes to build up the courage to jump in.  Once in the water I paddled furiously.  I started to lose momentum and felt myself being pulled by the current.  Thoughts of making it across had faded as I was now struggling just to stay above water and breath.  I was terrified and felt panic swell inside me.  I couldn't cry out for help and I started to sink.  Suddenly there was an arm in front of me and I desperately grasped at it and felt immense relief as I was pulled across the last few feet to the other side.   

Along my life journey I have learned that I can't overcome all of my trials alone. I don't think I am meant to.  I have had others reach out to me and provide the strength and support I needed in a crucial time of need.  I have also learned that when I reach out to support others it strengthens my own resolve and affirms my personal truths.

When I have that opportunity to grasp someone's hand that is unsteady or has slipped and fallen, it requires me to set my feet firmly and use my leverage to help steady them or lift them up. By planting myself firmly in the personal truths that I have learned from my own mistakes and experiences I both help others along their path while also re-learning and affirming my own truths. I will learn to walk with my hands outstretched to others, so that whenever an opportunity arises my hands will be ready to grab hold of someone reaching out for help. We are never meant to walk alone.


  1. I have benefited from your outstreched hands numerous times, and I'm so grateful for each time they have been there to support me. Always here to reciprocate however I can. :)

  2. You have caught me several times and I only hope that I can always repay the favor