Pictures have this way of capturing moments in time. Sometimes it’s intentional, and sometimes it’s meaning doesn’t become clear until long after the space of time that was captured is looked upon again with fresh eyes. The picture here is such a photo, and it is such a moment.
I often find myself adventuring alone with my camera gear and the wildness of my soul as my companion. Getting lost on purpose within various places and disconnecting from it all to find the strongest signal possible.
Although I have gotten better at letting a friend or two know my whereabouts in case “something” should ever happen, it doesn’t always go that way nor does it always stick to me following the original plan(s) of where my adventurous soul takes me. And, even though on this day I did do better (for the most part) in informing a friend and sticking to my plan, it still wasn’t perfect.
I found myself at this beautiful location within the natures of Vermont many hours north and deep into the state’s many natural pieces of amazement. I walked down the pathway and explored the area of which was calling me and my nature soul. I found myself in awe as I usually do when lost among the pine and roaring waters.
As I meandered to another spot within this peaceful/exhilarating place I found a space among the naturally carved rock(s) where I wanted to zone in/zone out. I then decided I wanted a mind shot to remember. So, I turned over onto my stomach from my sitting position. It only took a moment to snag my photo, and then I went to turn over and get back up. In that moment, in that single moment which suddenly became a life or death scenario…everything went different. What I had intended had now become a moment when literally each decision I made could easily be my last. I realized the instant that I had turned over to get back up I was fucked.
My body was sliding forward with nothing for me to grab onto. The smoothness of the rocks which had eluded me any concern had suddenly transformed into a danger I had no intention of being a part of. It did not matter where I placed my hands, and it did not matter if I tried to adjust myself. The more I moved or not moved proved irrelevant.
In the channel that was formed by the rocks of which my body was descending down there was a very very small pool of collected water which in itself posed it’s own danger in addition to being the last perceived surface before the edge of this rock formation went to the rocks and deeper pools below. I knew if I went off the edge I would be dead. Or, at minimum, I would be severely injured and unable to get to any form of safety which would lead me to my death regardless. And, as I kept thinking and kept trying to prevent this from occurring my body kept sliding more with each centimeter I attempted to push back.
I realized that now was when I needed to be more mindful than I have ever been with the present moment. If I was going to get out of this I was the only one who could do it. There was no one else. No else who was there. No one else who knew where I was. No one who would know what would have happened to me if I did not make it. No one who would even know where to begin, or, even realize that I was gone until days or possibly weeks later.
I refocused my eyes on that small pool of water on the very edge of this rock. As my body descended yet again, I jammed my foot down. If I had misjudged this, if it didn’t work the way I had envisioned in my mind…it was over. My foot went into the water laden with leaves and muck. It was not deep. There was barely a hold for my foot to find, but what little piece was there I managed to find it. One centimeter this way or that way and I would have missed it. One centimeter too high and I would have glazed right over that water like a glass surface. As my foot submerged I knew I was not out of it yet. I still had to go backwards on the very rocks that flew me forward. The same rocks that I just slid down time and time again, and was still sliding on in this moment. I now had to reverse myself, and this time I had a wet foot to add to it all.
I braced myself as best as I could. For every step back I would still go forward, but somehow/someway I made it back out. I sat for a moment. I sat with the realization that it was all almost over. I sat with the knowing that my body was not floating in the water(s) below(even though that visual had not left my head space), and it was not under the cascade where no one would have heard my screams. I was not dead. I was still very much alive. It was not my time.
As I stood, my body/mind was so ridden with overwhelmed anxiousness I could not control the shaking emerging from me. I took some time to collect myself. I went to another vantage point and saw where I would have ended up, but it was not my time.
Yes, pictures speak a thousand words. And, this picture will be a heavy reminder as to how life is fleeting and the time we are given should be embraced like a long lost friend while being emblazoned with the fire(s) to live it to the fullest. I know I was lucky. I know I was fortunate. And any day since this moment has not gone by without the sheer power of that intense understanding.