zombies were chasing me…roup with another kayaker who was injured. A freak storm upset my usually solid sense of direction. A night in the middle of nowhere with not much more than protein bars, duct tape and a bleeding, frightened stranger. And then the longest day of my life, paddling like the zombies were chasing me, to get back to base camp.
I love this, KB. I think that a deep night in the soul, when all our reference points are gone, but for our absolute commitment to someone else who needs us desperately, is the kind of life turning point that too many never have. What it does is reconfigure the map of the self, the geography of what we thought we were or could do. You were needed. If you didn’t succeed, you both would die. That might have been the longest day of your life but in the context of it, in your trance, there is a total rewrite of what’s possible going on. Sure you’re shit scared. Cold, terrified. Out of control. While I can’t know this, what I suspect (and thinking as a military vet) the extraordinary responsibility for another life tends to open up reserves that are always and forever available. We are largely unaware of them until we are desperately need. While clearly you had children, this is a whole other kind of responsibility as opposed to mothering. I love your analogy of putting it in your backpack for later. Survival has a way of laser focusing us in on the here and now. In this way you weren’t only supremely fortunate to have survived, but to have had this experience. We simply do not know who we are until we are in extremis. What is remarkable in us is given permission to rise. Because it must.