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I was treading water and praying for a sandbar. I don’t mean this metaphorically, I needed some shallow water. My family and I were on vacation and had seen some people playing way out in the ocean, in water that was only chest high. Judging by the color change in the ocean, we assumed that we had a sandbar in front of our condo as well…I feel like sandbars should come included in the price of the condo.
I swim fairly well, so I was comfortable paddling a fair distance from shore. I would paddle-try to touch-paddle-try to touch-paddle-try to touch. I just couldn’t find the sand I was hoping to feel. I stopped and turned around to look towards the shore. Oh dear, I had swam a pretty fair distance away from safety. It wasn’t the end for me, and there was not a REAL threat of drowning, but there was a moment. There was a moment of panic, which butted-up painfully with mortality. I didn’t see my life flash before my eyes, but I did stop to think about the potential seriousness of my situation. It was truly a gift. That moment of fear, uncertainty, and feeling of impending doom, was a welcomed addition to my ever-evolving perspective.
Upon returning to my family in the shallow water, I began to think about the degree of safety that I take for granted everyday. There are so many measures taken to ensure that our lives are safe and secure. Our vehicles, ambulances, police, locks, guards, fences, phones, rules, and regulations all provide us with safety and security.
I think it is great to go throughout my day, while not having to fret for my well-being at a higher level than I do. However, I think that there is something to be said for having that security blanket torn from your hands, leaving you exposed, if only briefly, to the possibility of death, or at least potential danger. I think it encourages gratitude. I think it spurs humility. I feel that it encourages me to be thankful for the measures that have been taken to provide me with a comfortable life. I believe that it helps me to feel what it would truly feel like to lose my family. I don’t think that I do a very good job of appreciating what it means to really live, or understand the brevity of my existence, until I am threatened with the possibility of it being taken away from me.
Last week we interviewed Paul DeAngelis on the LHRL Podcast. Paul is a guide in mountain climbing expeditions. He experiences legitimate life and death situations, regularly. We discussed the change that occurs in people who are removed from their perceived “normal” life, and have their safety blanket removed. Paul said that he sometimes feels that he is going down the mountain with an entirely different person than he went up it with. The appreciation and perspective that comes with stepping out of your comfort zone is life-altering.
What was most interesting to me regarding Paul’s stories of people’s lives being changed by the experience on a mountain, was his agreeance that a mountain is not necessary to create the change. What in the hell does that mean? I will tell you.
The point that was being made is that change is available within each of us. Appreciation and a new energy for life can be brought about simply by being more aware. It’s an attitude change that can be brought about through awareness, which requires no mountain. An experience similar to climbing a mountain, jumping out of an airplane, or making a long, symbolic journey might be a great vehicle for delivering this awareness, but these things are far from necessary.
See things differently. Be positive. Be appreciated. Be aware of all the good things that have been given to you, and the effort that has been put into keeping you safe.
Peace, Love, and all things Beef related,