One of travel ‘s greatest virtues is its power to teach and open our eyes, sometimes, to the most obvious things. It also has the power to serve us reminders of long-forgotten lessons and make us appreciate those who are dear to us. This is one such incident.
An eye-opening incident
I was out on a snorkelling trip when a strong current swept me away. Two things saved me: a lesson I learned many years ago that if I were to be in this situation, I had to swim parallel to the shore before heading for the boat or the shoreline; and sheer willpower. I began to tire before I reached the boat. My body felt like a slab of lead and my mind was racing. I struggled to stay afloat as I felt waves of panic washing over me. As I sank for the third time, it suddenly occurred to me that I should start yelling for help. I fought my way back to the surface and shouted, “Help me please!”. Many thoughts flitted through my mind and it occurred to me that even in my dire state, I still remained polite – a bizarre thing to think of at that moment!
Fortunately, I was close enough to the boat for the crew to hear my cries and throw out a life buoy. I used my last reserves to reach out and grab the buoy. The waves played with me like a little doll, smashing me against the boat as the crew struggled to get me to the ladder. I somehow managed to catch the ladder and I knew I was safe.
I kicked myself for not listening to my instincts.
Before I went into the sea, I noticed the wind picking up and the swells growing. My instincts told me not to go in but I figured: I’m an experienced snorkeller, I’m a decent swimmer, I initiated this trip, I was there, I wanted to see the reefs and if I felt unsafe, I could always make my way back to the boat. I was swept away within minutes. The crew tried to haul me back into the boat but I couldn’t move. I hung onto the ladder in a state of shock. My throat choked on the salty water and my mind was reeling. I tried desperately to relax my breathing and calm my nerves. After what seemed like ages, I allowed the crew to pull me up. My first real thoughts were of my utter stupidity – I kicked myself for not listening to my instincts. I then started to think of my loved ones at home and how I wished they were there.
I was elated to return home to big hugs, kisses and smiling faces – it was all I needed to know that I was back with the people I love and I thanked them for simply being in my life.
There’s a lesson in every experience
I strongly believe that there’s a lesson in every experience, whilst the more dramatic ones have the power to truly open our eyes. My Dad’s passing several years ago taught me a great lesson about setting aside our differences to allow love to fluorish.
This near-drowning incident reminded me of how fragile life is and taught me to appreciate my loved ones and tell them as often as I can why they mean so much to me. It also taught me to listen carefully to my instincts. My mind may have a will of its own but when it comes to personal safety, it’s my instincts that I should trust.