Hey Diddle Diddle

My best friend hates women’s retreats. So do I. She told me that the women of her church were attending one called, “Weathering Life’s Storms.”


“I know how you weather life’s storms,” my friend said. “You just have to hold on and go through–yes, through–them.”


I had more occasion to think about storms on Monday evening, when I was driving home from doing a magazine interview in Waco. I turned on NPR’s “All Things Considered” just in time for a 13-minute segment: “Climate Activist Visits Wilderness Before Prison Term.” The story centered on a man named Tim DeChristopher, but that’s not the part I cared about. I cared about the reporter, Alex Chadwick.


Chadwick’s  wife and radio partner died a year ago. When he lost her, he could no longer do his job.


“I’ve been lost,” he said.


He took this assignment in eastern Utah, riding the 20 miles of rapids in the notorious Cataract Canyon, in order to see if he could still report a story without his wife.


The water was at six times its normal flow. Rapid #15, known as Capsize, or alternately, Hell to Pay, approached. Chadwick asked, “How do you navigate such a rapid?


Guide Susette Weiseit answered, “Hey diddle diddle. Right down the middle!”


Chadwick began to see the patterns through the rapids, even in the crazy places. He confessed, “It’s still dangerous, but it’s more interesting than scary.”


Chadwick felt his wife’s presence with him at all times because she would have loved this trip.


The next day he talked with another guide named John Weisheit and asked, “What do you have to do when things get really bad?”


“Sometimes things don’t happen very well in the river and boats slip or driftwood gets in the way. And one of the things I’ve learned through the years is when things, like, you’re actually combating nature, it’s best to surrender,” the guide said. “When you’re out here, there’s nothing wrong with surrender. It’s actually a good idea.”


So, my friend. You don’t need a women’s retreat. You need a ride down some rapids with a couple of trusty guides. You already know a thing or two about surrender, about how to hey diddle diddle it all the way home.