(Not) Rollin’ on a River

I love to people watch. If I know I will be somewhere particularly crowded, even though I hate crowds, I get excited about the chance to watch people doing what they do.

One of my favorite places to watch people in is the small Georgia mountain town of Helen. In the summer, folks like to go tubing.


You can learn a lot about a person by the way he or she deals with the tubing experience. You see the full range of human experience if you sit along the river and watch the folks tubing float by you.

The thrill seeker. This is the person who is going to aim for every rapid (even though there aren’t any in Helen) and try to make the experience as exciting as possible.

The stoic. This person is here to relax, not react. They will contemplate nature while drifting along.

The bundle of nerves. Each bump into rocks or other inter tubes will stress this person out. They also don’t actually want to be in their swimsuit in public.

The sleepyhead. This person will promptly fall asleep, oblivious to times they bump into others or get stuck.

The chatterbug. This person has to talk to everyone the whole time. Often at the front of a pack. Often trying to entertain the group.

The beautiful person. This is the tannest, fittest, most scantily clad person, propped up for all to see. Male or female, they want all eyes on them, not to say that they’ll show they care if you’re looking at them.

There are many other types, but these are the main ones that come to mind as I write. I think of how I’ve seen folks on the river deal with the issues the river presents — places where you’ll get stuck, where a rapid might be, where a lot of tubes might pile up in a bottleneck.

If it’s a fast moving part of the river, the thrill seeker is going to try to figure out how to make it more exciting, and might try to stand in their tube. The bundle of nerves is going to fret and possibly cry. The chatterbug will tell everyone it’s coming and get ready. The stoic will accept their fate and go along with the flow. The beautiful person will outwardly look unruffled and might even smile to show they are having fun, but inwardly worry about looking stupid if fall out of their tube. The sleepyhead will completely miss the event.

I think however we deal with things in life can say a lot about us. The issue is almost always neutral: traffic, an issue at work, a cancellation of an event. How we react and regroup is how we inherently deal with the issue.

I’m more of a stoic type on the river and in life. I tend to believe a lot of things work themselves out. If I fight a situation, I’ll be more likely to make a fool of myself. If I gather information, watch others go through the same thing, and wait, the answer will emerge. A lot of problems can’t be solved immediately. A lot of situations can’t be resolved quickly. So why force them to? And why look for any fun in them? My secondary type is either the bundle of nerves or the chatterbug.

Sometimes, though, I wonder what taking a thrillseeker position for do for me. Maybe I should throw myself at opportunities more, even though it scares me. I hope I have this thought each time a new challenge emerges.

Be a thrillseeker, Susan. See where it takes you.

“If you come down to the river
Bet you gonna find some people who live
You don’t have to worry ’cause you have no money
People on the river are happy to give” — Proud Mary (Creedence Clearwater Revival)

Thanks for reading.




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