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  • Bruce Tate

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As our daughers were in elementary school, we moved about five miles across town to downsize. The new home had one feature that stood out to everyone who came to visit: an insanely steep hill with an equally intemidating curve right in the middle. By today's Austin standards, they couldn't even build that road with that grade today. Riding up the hill for the first time, my girls were in the back seat giggling at the feeling, but we knew these girls would someday learn to drive on this very hill.


I remember when either girl learned to drive, they embraced the break like a prom date and inched down, bit by bit. Make it down once and the worst was over. Learning to climb the hill was almost as easy, as long as you could get a little traction. Aside from an occasional late night call to come rescue a family member in a storm, the hill was not the killer it seemed to be, _as long as you controlled your momentum._ More so, once they conquered that hill, learning to drive elsewhere was a bit anticlimactic.


Fast forward to November, 2021 and we had a similar "hill" to conquer. Our marina slip spreads out like a many-finger hand with the tips tickling a pretty aggressive current. When the river is high, parking is a horrendous chore. Pull in sideways across the river, and the timing is too difficult. Come at it from downstream, and the pilot has to slowly creep up against the strong current, let the nose fall away, and then goose the throttle with a hard right rudder just enough to get out of the current. Most days it feels less like a landing and more like a controlled crash.


Two weeks ago, it took me three tries and two new scuff marks to muscle the boat into place. Yesterday, Maggie tried three times and couldn't quite get in. She dreamed about parking all night.


Sometimes, our great loop preparations feel like that. It's easy to blindly follow life's currents. The river builds up a momentum and takes us where it will, until we decide to be somewhere else. Then, we gather our skills to control the momentum, and try to muster the best landing we can. Sometimes, the river is too much.


But sometimes, by practicing and watching long enough, we can nudge oh, so, smoothly out of the channel. Today, Maggie parked the boat, and never even brushed so much as a fender against the dock. And it felt _good_.





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