Being on, and around, a body of water has an interesting effect on people. For some, it becomes an extension of self. Our friend Ashley, a local and longtime boatman, shares his story.
I have been on, in, and around the New River for so long, that floating along on its current seems as natural and as effortless as breathing.
I grew up with the New River essentially in my back yard but never floated the waters until I was 18. I now have accumulated more years on the river in my life than not. It seems incomprehensible to try and imagine my life without it.
When I am on the New River in a boat, I know of no stress in my life that doesn’t become much smaller before the end of my trip. It’s like every wave I crash through serves to cleanse my soul. When I leave its shores I always promise it shall not be long ’till I visit again. I find the river captivating. I never grow tired of the experience.
The New river has given me many things in life, including three of the dearest friends I have. I would never would have met them were it not for the river.
One of those friends passed away 2 years ago during a cold February. The first place I went to mourn was into the waters of the New River. It still helps me heal when I miss him.
He too wrote of the rivers bond and how it had impacted our lives so I know it’s not just me thinking this way. I don’t know if everyone that spends years traversing its waters feels the same way I do, but I imagine it holds a dear and special place in a great number of their hearts.
The New River is old and wise. I have learned to listen to it and it has taught me many things I now carry forward in life.
It has taught me:
- Above all else, respect
If you don’t respect a rivers power, it will let you know in no uncertain terms just how little control you have over it. It will show you that no matter how well you think you understand it, it still has a few things it hasn’t shown. It will show you exactly what you are seeking; you just may or may not see it right away.
It took me years of looking to uncover the tranquility I get from it now and I curiously wonder what it will teach me in the next 20 years.
What does the river mean to you?