Barriers can come into our lives at any moment and knock us down. How we react and grow from those experiences is what matters. Erin reached out to my team after reading No Barriers to share how the book came into her life when she needed it most. She recently experienced a devastating loss and found the passage on Lava Falls to be poignant: “the internal quest for balance, to know when to let go and when to hang on, when to keep going downstream and when to hike back up and give it another try.” Erin’s reflections in her own words:

“Last spring I joined my mom, dad, and older brother, along with 12 others, on a 16-day private Grand Canyon trip. My dad had gotten a permit and I’d been planning to row my own raft through the trip. Three weeks before our launch date, my partner died suddenly in a skiing accident. I wasn’t sure I would be able to handle going on the trip after that. I ultimately decided to, thinking that if there was a place that could offer support and a chance to breathe again, it was the river and the Grand Canyon.

The trip proved beautiful and also severely challenging. I was physically depleted, emotionally shattered, and alternatively indifferent toward my own survival, and then deeply anxious and terrified of dying. While scouting Lava, I became so overcome by anxiety and the acute reality of my grief that I feared I could not make a safe run and asked my brother to row my boat through instead. The feeling of standing on the right bank, watching each boat in our group go through successfully, was a deeply impactful moment. I immediately felt haunted by my own choice to sit it out and I profoundly questioned whether I’d made the right choice for me—was this a moment to take a break or a moment to take a leap? Was it a demonstration of my maturity that I knew when to step aside or was I turning away from a chance to face what intimidated me and become more truly myself in the process? Perhaps the growth was in sitting it out and making friends with the feelings of inadequacy that threatened to swallow me. Perhaps the rapid to run was inside me this time. But I still don’t know. I still grapple with these questions. 

While I did have some adventures on the trip—flipping my raft on the left side of Crystal and falling out of my boat and finding myself beneath it through the left chute of Bedrock, I emerged at the take out alive and relieved to be so.

a photo of erin looking up at a massive waterfall during a recent trip to the grand canyon
Looking up at a beautiful waterfall during a recent trip to the Grand Canyon. Photo: Tom Gurski

I continue to grieve the death of my partner and part of that has proven to be about finding meaning and purpose in my own remaining journey on earth. Your book buoyed me and reminded me of that which is beautiful and wild and interminable within us all.”

a photo of erin agee looking up and laughing taken at the grand canyon
It’s always lucky to be on a river trip with good friends. Photo: Dana Sheik
a photo of erin agee smiling during a trip to the grand canyon
All smiles on a river trip to the Grand Canyon. Photo: Dana Sheik

Erin, you make us pause and reflect on what No Barriers means in our lives and how we use the message to move forward with purpose. Keep searching!