When Instinct Overtakes
The water speckled like tinsel as the sun beamed down with ultra-UV index that I'm sure ranged somewhere from 11-12 on a 10 point scale. My sister’s back turned red in an instant.
We were having a swim in the Thornbury harbour on a scorching summer’s day. Some kids cannon-balled off the pier making gigantic splashes while teenagers strutted their stuff up and down the rubberized dock. Looking over the edge, we decided on the ladder. And we enjoyed a leisurely swim in the frigid water.
The next day I rode my bike down and locked it up before walking with my bike shoes to the end of the pier afraid of burning my feet. I took them off, stripped off my bike jersey and took a look around.
“Heeeeeeeeelp!” I heard out in the water.
“Do you need heeeeeelp?” a woman screamed to my left.
And then I looked into his eyes. And I saw myself. My 8-year ago self, swimming in the Caribbean from one island to another. No air, no courage and no composure, shrieking for help. Paralyzed and drowning, I saw myself in him.
So I jumped. Taking with me nuggets learned in a SCUBA rescue course, and everything learned during my ongoing confrontation with water.
I jumped in.
I swam out to and looked him in the eye, “You are ok,” I assured, wrapped his arm around my shoulder and began to tow him in, and when we got close enough to the pier, we were thrown a life preserver. He climbed up the ladder, and gave his wife a hug.
“Thank you.” He said.
“I’ve been there.”
And I have.
Jumping in was easy. It was as if there was no other choice.I have experienced more anxiety about water than all other fears. Let’s face it. Anxiety is fear. Anxiety is fear of the unknown, the future.
Because there wasn’t. My instinct overtook.
When life slaps us with a split-second opportunity, be it jumping off a pier to help a person in strife, we have to be thankful, for presence is where life happens, and it’s there where fear has no choice but to take the back seat, arms crossed.
Be present my friends. There’s no telling how many lives you can save, no telling how many you already have.