After only two weeks of paddling on the Mighty Women dragon boat team, I bore my first visible injury. I say "visible" because I already had experienced painfully sore shoulder and back muscles.
But last week an enormous purple-greenish goose egg sprang forth on the back of my right hand. I do not even recall how it happened, but I must have whacked my hand on the side of the boat while I was paddling.
I readily admit that I am a klutz. Sometimes, for no apparent reason, I lose my balance, fall down or whack an appendage on a hard surface. My bruises have bruises. But my klutziness does not prevent me from forging ahead into turbulent water, even though I may capsize and be injured. What would be the fun in just sitting on the shore watching everyone else having amazing experiences?
Recently more than one friend has described me with adjectives that are new for me: courageous, adventurous, brave and even fearless. I laughed off these declarations. Believe me, I'm no super woman. My bruises bear witness to my vulnerability.
True, in the past two years, I've faced a series of tough obstacles that at one point seemed insurmountable. Eventually, I did clear the obstacles, but I won't pretend it was easy.
The lesson I learned and would like to pass on is this: life is filled with obstacles. If you haven't yet faced turbulent waters, hold on. You will. At one time or another, we all will be plunged into a raging river with dangerous undertows and hidden debris waiting to smack us alongside the head.
The trick is to develop coping skills so that when we face a challenging course ahead, we have the tools and experience--and yes--courage--to paddle through the difficult challenges without losing our cool, overturning the boat or worse, giving up and wading to the shore.
Proudly display your bruises. They bear witness that you have plunged fearlessly through turbulent waters and have arrived safely to a calm pool, where you can catch your breath and savor life before the next rapid.