I love people–watching. I've watched for almost 23 years. It's how I learned invaluable lessons like riding a bicycle or pretending to listen and not–so–important lessons like where to hold my arms while standing for long periods of time. By watching others, I learn everything they know about what it is they're doing. This is how I reassure myself when trying something new and possibly humiliating or dangerous. For the most part, watchers watch and rarely do — we leave doing to those less afraid of making mistakes than ourselves. As a watcher, I never did anything without fully understanding the possible consequences, effectively eliminating all sports and outdoor activities for me early on. Imagine my surprise when I found myself holding a paddle in swimming trunks and a life vest on a raft — for fun.
I've only been a mutt for three months, but I've spent a majority of my time watching the other mutts and I thought I had them pretty much figured out. I knew that there were some who enjoyed light hikes and short camping trips, I didn't peg anyone as extremely adventurous or very athletic (I mean, this is a creative agency). Like most companies, Mutt has an annual fun day, sometimes a fun trip. Last year, the mutts went to Palm Springs for pool–side entertainment. The year before that, they threw a huge anniversary party at Beast in Portland. I was thrilled to find out where we were going for this year's real fun day (we already had a "fun day" that turned out to be an all staff meeting at Cromer's house) as soon as the email from Cheryl popped up in my inbox. Anxiety quickly replaced my joy when I read over the word "rafting" in the subject line. Rafting? The only other time I went rafting was at DIsneyland and I didn't even like it. I couldn't understand everyone else's excitement, I was terrified. What if I fall in? Or get lost? How should I wear my hair?
By the time rafting day came around, my nerves had come to a head. No amount of watching could have prepared me for +3 to +4 rapids that kicked our asses. The water was cold, my nose was sunburnt and no one stayed dry. Surprisingly enough, I did not fall in, get lost or care too much about my hair (only after the first water splashing fight). Even more of a surprise to me was that someone called me "athletic–looking" out on the water, literally the last adjective I'd use to describe myself. Getting out of the studio and onto the river with the mutts for a day was truly an experience — one I am glad I jumped into without over–analyzing and we all got to see my adventurous side, which almost never happens. Although we seemed a little hesitant toward rafting day at first, we all had a blast blowing off steam with water fights, paddle races and cliff diving in good company. Also, I am clearly an awesome rafter and might have found a new favorite pastime.