yesterday I rode the storm.
there were at least two places I could have pulled into a kfc or tim’s right off the highway, but chose not to…what was I thinking?
on an adrenalin high as though I had injected it directly through my veins, every fibre of my being in sheer terror.
it was fight or flight. why did I choose to fight it out?
isn’t it time I learnt to respect nature?
once in a while we get reminded how powerless we are. no matter what we think, in the end nature holds all the cards.
nature, her beauty, awesome and terrifying will always win out.
When I was a kid, my dad and I raced our Rhodes 19 every Monday night during racing season. He skippered, I worked the jib. And when the wind came up he’d point us as hard as he could, with me pulling in the sail callous upon callous, my short petite body hiking out of the boat hanging on by my feet…and when the wind died down, we’d try to grab every breath of it. he by intelligent skippering, me by sensing where the wind was breathing through the sheet of the sail through my small hand. we had a parade of pennants to show for it.
Until I reached adolescence, I was a speed freak, and I was fearless. My dad threw me in the water under the age of two and after I emerged spitting and giggling, that became my home. I had a special badge at the pool where they had a strict height restriction for the deep end. It wasn’t until I took up racing and had a flip turn contest with my friends, that I actually experienced anything frightening in water. That day changed me. It may have been after 7 or 8 somersaults that I realized I had no idea where the surface of the water was. When I finally emerged, I was terrified.
Bombing down a hill snow skiing, slaloming in and out of the wakes water skiing, my love of adrenalin and sheer joy of abandon knew no bounds. until one day, and I’m not sure when and how exactly, it suddenly occurred to me to be fearful. wild abandonment turned to abject fear overnight, it seemed.
My first real experience of our powerlessness against nature happened while climbing a mountain in the Sinai desert. We were given very little instruction and no ropes. All that went through my mind was… 3 points of contact…two arms and a leg, two legs and an arm. Climbing up was easy. exhilarating and utterly riveting. I could always hoist myself up a little higher. But coming down was an altogether different story. That was where I began to see myself as just a tiny creature, no larger than an ant against the hugeness of the mountain. of nature. awesome.
I honestly don’t know how I got myself out the predicaments I found myself in that day. How I could reach down with a toe, hanging by a single finger on the side of a mountain with nothing but my own wits to guide me. In the height of the moment all that existed was the mountain and me. It may have been the single most focussed day of my life. Strangely, in the grip of the moment, I felt no fear at all. I was much too busy. fear wasn’t an option. In fact, what I thought was…I understand why people climb mountains. It was a feeling of euphoric joy, that feeling of oneness with nature. no separation between me and that mountain, and that as long as I stayed connected to it, I was going to be okay.
It was only after I finally returned to the ground that fear took over and I realized what a truly dangerous situation I had put myself into.
So remind me, next time you see me riding out a storm, that flight is in fact the intelligent option.
I should save abandonment for playing jazz.