Monday, February 10, 2014

"One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it's worth watching."

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Each time I go on a hike with friends rather than alone, it completely changes the experience. The fist hike I went on with two of my very best friends, Nathan and Adam, changed my life more than any other hike before. In fact, maybe more than any previous experience. 

Oyster Dome is a hike up to part of an exposed cliff on Blanchard Mountain, and the view at 2,025 feet is jaw dropping. I've hiked to this particular lookout several times, but in October of 2013 I hiked it during the fall for the first time. Everything was wet but I didn't think anything of it because it seems like it's always wet in this part of the state so I'm used to it. However, when walking beside the edge of the cliff down to ask these girls if they would take a picture of Nathan, Adam and I, I slipped and fell. I slid about ten feet before the friction of my flattened body and digging my finger tips into the rock stopped me, a hand's width from the edge of the cliff. By the time I had gathered my thoughts and realized that I wasn't falling, I heard the items I had been holding in my hands hit the ground over 2,000 feet below. For a second I just sat there in shock. Nathan and Adam were both panicking and if I remember correctly, the two girls simply said, "Holy shit." It was one of the most eye-opening experiences of my life. I thought I was imagining how close it was, but Nathan had said that in his mind, he saw me go over the edge.

Up until that day, I didn't value my life. I was not only careless, but the thought of my own death didn't affect me at all. I've read many people's descriptions of moments when "their lives flashed before their eyes" during a near-death experience and each story was unique and different...though I never believed any of them to be true. My life didn't exactly flash before my eyes, but all of a sudden my mind was flooded with memories of my younger sister and I. These memories came in the form of pictures of her and I from our childhood and just vivid memories of moments we've shared. After a few moments, I composed myself and walked up to the girls and had them take the picture of the three of us like I had wanted, and we hiked back down the mountain.

I hugged the two of them like I had never hugged them before and had a little breakdown in my car on my way home. I called both of my parents and both of my siblings, as well as a few other people, and told them how much they meant to me. That day I realized that our lives aren't simply for ourselves.We are bound to and intertwined with so many other people. I realized that I didn't value my life before because I felt like I was alive simply for the sake of living, if that makes any sense. Now, I feel like I'm alive for the sake of loving. I realized that I do care that I'm alive. I care because the thought of not being with my loved ones kills me inside. Part of me says, "Well, if you were dead you wouldn't miss them...clearly" but part of me still acknowledges that I would much rather be with them and enjoy the beautiful gifts that come with life. I have yet to hike Oyster Dome again, but I plan to as soon as the weather clears up a little bit. Maybe this time I'll have a little more respect for the mountain and for my life.



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