“It is what it is, whether bad or good, and everything happens just as it should.” JSM
I mentioned in a previous chapter that I’ve participated in some dumb stuff. Dangerous, dumb, head shaking, mind numbing, face palming with disappointment, stuff. (WARNING! The following is considered life threatening and is not condoned in any way! The following should not be tried by anyone, at any time, for any reason, anywhere… ever! In fact, I can’t believe I’m sharing this)
Running along railroad tracks constructed on one hundred foot stilts, built to traverse a river and connect two pieces of land. Every one hundred feet or so along its path, a timber removed or cocked off to the side. While running from beam to beam the open space that was once invisible to the eye, forces a quick and perfectly timed jump to avoid tripping and falling to certain death on the rocks below.
Swimming against the strong current of a functioning dam. Hoping with every flail of the arm to reach the human chain, mere inches away, all connected together hand in hand.
Testing the boundaries of thin ice. Riding a bicycle through a waste deep flood zone in the pouring rain. Intentionally getting lost in the woods just to see if we can make it home before dinner.
(My parents would get a kick out of this one if they’re reading) Crawling through the eaves with a friend and the pastor’s son, thirty feet above the floor of our church. One friend slips between the trusses, and punches through insulation and ceiling tiles, raining debris on the good folks below. He whips around, grabs the leg of the pastor’s son, who in turn muckles onto my leg for additional strength, and our friend is kicking against open air searching for solid footing, while dangling helplessly above the congregation.
All we wanted to do was hide from our parents. That’s all. The stunt demanded that the three of us repair the damages and if I’m not mistaken, some Bible passages needed reading as well.
In the backseat of a car while a total stranger drives no less than seventy miles per hour, along a winding back road, with his buddy surfing on the hood.
Plus a slew of other things. Things I can’t speak about. Things that could’ve put me in the grave many times over. Dumb, dumb, dumb.
Despite some of the lunacy of my early years I’ve only experienced the strange sensation of (what feels at the moment as) impending death, on three occasions. Times I was convinced I wasn’t surviving. One self-inflicted (though accidental), something that couldn’t be explained, a glitch in the Matrix if you will (or however you wish to interpret it), and the last an act by another human being.
I’ll start with self-inflicted as it was mentioned first.
If he’s reading, I can say for certainty he saved my life. No doubt about it. I know I’ve said it many times over, on the day it happened, but thank you.
This one is at the tippy top of the truly ridiculous.
As some may already know, I have a fascination with water. I can sit and stare at Open Ocean and allow it to consume me and my mind wanders endlessly. I thrive being around liquid water: Lakes, rivers, waterfalls in northern Maine, rafting, boating and I can spend a ton of time in a wave pool if you let me. I thoroughly enjoy parks with water slides with the kiddo, super soakers, and walks in warm rain. A scalding hot bubble bath. I’m thankful to my landlord every day for having a two person bathtub installed in my home.
So one day many, many moons ago, a buddy and I decided the spring thaw had created an area of white water and rapids we could “play” in, at a nearby river. Choppy and frothy and fast. The river bend cut side-to-side in “S” patterns through small landmasses and on the other side of the white water was a steep embankment to the main road above. We were so far down the hill at the bottom, the folks above us would have to be looking directly down and over the guardrail while speeding by, to even know we were there. The perfect place to cause some mischief.
The mischief for the day involved a long length of rope and a fast moving body of water. Every few feet down the length of rope we tied off loops for hand holds. At the very end of the rope was a final loop.
We calculated where to tie off the rope for the best possible rapids ride, anchored it to a tree, grabbed a loop and jumped into the water.
We shimmied up and down the length of rope as we sped down the river, cutting corners, dodging rocks, laughing like fools and colliding with high waves. It was fun, for a moment.
Where the river pitched down and emptied into an open shallow area, my friend released the rope with a yell and was ejected into slower moving water, hooting and hollering as a result of the “rush” and his body floated away with the current out of my line of sight.
Now my turn for the rush, I crept hand over hand down the remainder of the rope to the end, drove my wrist through the final loop, and twisted my hand around and through it. A double knot if you will. When the rope stopped tight, the loop squeezed around my wrist, pinning my thumb between two layers of intertwined rope, snapping it from its socket, twisting it back and a crack was felt in my shoulder.
My fingers were pointing to the sky, mashed together and bent at a ninety degree angle and I was stopped dead in the river. The force of the current stretching my body.
The impact caused stars to flash in my vision. After opening my eyes and the stars faded away, my view was nothing more than the leaves of a tree swaying in the wind above me. Pounding waves crested over the back of my partially submerged head, forcing water into my mouth and nose and other than my toes, my twisted fingers and a fraction of my face, the rest of me was under water. I had become nothing more than a rock like obstacle for the river to flow around and crash into.
Each moment I flipped over to grab the rope with my good hand and attempt to create some slack, the force of the rapids overpowered me and I had to release. Every time I tried, I found myself flipping back over out of sheer panic, forming a flat board, and staring at the tree and the blinding sun rays breaking through its branches overhead. I was completely and hopelessly trapped within the stupidity of my own actions.
When they say your life flashes before your eyes, it really isn’t quite like that. Maybe to some, but for me it’s more akin to watching time move around you and beyond you. I never saw flashes of the past leading to the present.
My mind was convinced my friend was gone, drifting down stream on the current having a blast, and all I could hope for at that moment was a passerby high overhead to catch a glimpse of me in the river below. The odds of that happening were nil. That’s when my mind went into overdrive.
Within a few seconds, my vision melted and transformed into something else. My tree remained the same but my observation of everything around it changed drastically.
I watched the cars driving by speeding up, and increasing in speed, to show me time quickening it’s natural pace. Darkness fell and night replaced the sun through my tree above. The stars and moon traveled their path across the sky glinting through the tree’s branches until the time for morning. The sun rose, the cars sped up again and night fell once more. Night to day to night to day to night to day. My perception of time breezed right by me. This happened many times through the experience.
Then my vision deepened to sight beyond time, and I watched the reactions of my death with my family, loved ones, and friends. Night fell and the sun rose and the moon appeared and the stars traveled and I struggled to keep above water, feeling like I wasn’t going to survive and night fell and the sun rose and my mind wandered elsewhere, my body overwhelmed with fatigue. My eyes close.
There was no way I could keep awake any longer, and I succumbed to the snare.
(As always, thanks for reading. Feel free to share and if you wish to subscribe, and follow this journey, please provide an email in the area below)