Sunday, March 30, 2014

Wild Ride Equals Lessons Learned

By Phil Mevert

              Trying new experiences can be a little frightening and there is always some risk involved. When trying a new experience you always hope everything goes smoothly, but sometimes things just happen and you have to deal with it. The important thing is to be able to analyze what went wrong and how to correct or prevent it or even what to do if history repeats itself.
              A recent personal experience made me think about how life experiences can relate to experiences in the field of architecture. Something I have wanted to do for a long time is go white water rafting. My older brother was able to go when he was in high school and he told me how much of a fun experience it is. I finally had the opportunity to go white water rafting within the past week and it is just as much fun as my brother had told me about, kind of.  
               It was a nice sunny day in the Dominican Republic and there was a group of about 40 of us that were divided into 10 teams of 4 to go white water rafting. White water rafting has a class system based on difficulty of the most extreme fall on the trail. The classification for our river trail was a 4 and the max is 5, so it was a very risky experience to begin with and even more so having never done white water rafting.  After watching a training video we headed up the to our starting point on the river where we received some on land training before getting the raft into the river. We were instructed on the basic commands that our river guide would be giving us to help navigate the raft. As we began down the river our raft was one of the last rafts in the line up to start down the river.  As the raft was going down the river the guide would yell out forward, backwards, get down and pack to position as needed based on currents and various rapids.  As we traveled down the river we were able to catch and pass some of the other rafts. There were some points that three or four rafts were within a 100 feet of each other.  It seemed as we got to the midpoint of the route is where some of the class three and four rapids. As we approached the biggest and hardest rapid called Mike Tyson Sr. some of the rafts in front of ours began to pile up as one of them was stuck. As we were dropping down the 10 to 15 foot rapid and our boat went down sideways it became apparent that our boat was going to flip. As the boat flip I tried to grab the side and pull myself under so I would be able to breath, however since our raft was so close to the falling water pressure I was not able to get under and breath. I then tried to just make sure I was clear of our raft so I could at least get my head above the water. When I felt that I had cleared our raft I tried to pop my head out of the water but instead I hit my head on the bottom of the raft in front of us and continued to hold my breath under the water. I then let the current carry me under water and was finally after about 30 seconds or so able to pop up to the top and breath above the water, however I was on my back and heading downriver head first on my back instead of the preferred feet first on my back. I then was able to swim over to the rescue raft and be pulled in and wait for my raft to catch up. After having a chance to reflect on what happened, if I were ever in a position like that again I now know that I should just let the current take me away from the rapid right away instead of trying to pop up in the traffic jam. 

The reflection on what went wrong and how to prevent it or survive it at a faster rate can be translated to Architecture. For instance if you are meeting with a new client and you say something or do something that makes them give a weird look or comment to you, you can go back and reflect on what you said and then learn to change the way you talk around them.  Similarly if you are working on particular building type you have never worked on before and the process is different than what you are used to, you will have many trials and errors to reflect on and adjust to for the next time you do a that particular building type.       

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