Rejuvenation on the River

By Becky Keller, Orangutan Coach.  I overbooked myself. A three-day conference, a one-day training, a two-hour webinar (all in one extended weekend) = overwhelm. I got that “too full” feeling like I have just finished eating dinner at a big family gathering. The food was delicious, the company was great - but now the “I just want to unzip my pants and sleep” kind of feeling was beginning to envelop me.

Why did I do that?  Why did I get up as early as I do for a workday and stay up as late as I do on a weekend? I think my brain hurts - from trying to “take it all in!  Learning to pace myself is something this weekend has reminded me I continually need to do and evaluate. It is a process – one of continual education and improvement.  It is acknowledgment as well.  That there is always something else to learn…to discover. Occasionally, a weekend like this is worth the fatigue and brain pain. 

I need to process; set my intentions.  My cats remind me I have ignored their attempts at grabbing my attention.  They have expressed their displeasure, rather vocally, at my closing off my office to prevent their physical intrusions (but not their vocal ones).  Their energy of renewed insistence on my attention (now that the doors are once again open in normal welcoming fashion) helps to balance the high-powered energy of being with like-minded new and longtime friends throughout the three days.  (I count “Zoom meetings” as being “with” people.) The reality of still needing to do my weekend laundry also helps with balancing.

I start the laundry then settle into my recliner.  With cats leaning against my arms, I decide to meditate.  I go to my happy place – the Bornean rainforest, floating on the river on a small Klotok boat, so named because of the “klotok – klotok – klotok” sound it makes as we slowly make our way through the black/brown water of the Sekonyer river.



It is peaceful to me as I sit on the deck of the boat and watch the green landscape get thicker as we move deeper into areas where roads are scarce, and the river is the main mode of transportation. 

proboscis monkey  male orangutan

I love to see the Proboscis monkeys gather high in the thick foliage as the boat passes below on the river near the trees where orangutans sometimes come to the river edge to gather their meal from a branch hanging heavy with one of their favorite fruits. 

crocodile resting place

We pass a flattened area of green along the river when the Indonesian driver of our boat tells us a crocodile was resting on the bank.  The crocodile is not there.  He is probably in the water in which we are effortlessly traveling downstream. The boat is small, and the crocodile is large.  I am still relaxed. I have complete faith and confidence in the skill of the boat driver and the sturdiness of our vessel – small that it is.


The sound of the Klotok boat seems to echo down the river and mix with the sounds of the other forest wildlife, heard, but mostly unseen as we pass by. There is an occasional swoosh of wings of the large hornbill flying overhead.  Every animal seems to be aware of what they are doing and where they are going.  Their purpose seems evident to the other animals within their group. They each appear to have roles.  Although sounds of interruption are sometimes heard, they are usually short-lived and followed by a sense of order without the listener really knowing what happened.  The absence of chaos seems to say that whatever was out of balance has been rebalanced and the forest equilibrium reestablished.        

My brain clears as I remember the river. My body relaxes as I feel the warmth of one cat against my arm and the soft purring sound of the other stretched across my lap. Animals both near and in my happy place remind me of why it is worth it to sometimes allow myself to be overbooked and overwhelmed. Animals – especially the ones in faraway places that are less talked about, less known, and are at risk of having their homes disrupted by the demands of other communities and countries need their stories told and their voices heard so people everywhere understand their value and know the connections that exist among us. Connecting/Reconnecting with friends (and pets) and creating new ways to present information is both rejuvenating and inspiring to me and hopefully to those with whom I then interact as I pass it along. That is the part I love.  That is the part that fuels my passion.



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Orangutan Coach