A concrete path twisted through paddies to end at a rutted trail. I followed it to a grassy sandbar on a bend in the river. The forest stood at the edge of the opposite bank, and sunshine poured heat into the still air. Pebbles covered the shore, where the clearest water I had seen in Asia twirled in the backwater. I stripped down for the coolest pleasure of the day. The slope fell into the flow and I thought about the joy of a float from Thac Ba on an inner tube. Asians in general avoided exposure to sunshine, but if enough tourists exposed the fun, a tubing business had potential for profit.   These rides brought thrills back into my life, but they were not without dangers, and I would learn more about luck than I ever thought possible. Buddhist tradition teaches that one must be mindful of what one is doing. But one cannot be fully prepared for the multitude of threats. No matter how skillful one is, one could dodge one thing and be blindsided by another. One cannot maintain diligent focus throughout every moment of a day’s ride. One must have luck-the shock absorber for an unfair requirement of skills beyond human capability, or a lack of focus when the absolutely unexpected or illegal action happens. Despite my Asian experience, I had to compromise and adjust myself to their ways. They expected that.

 

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