I nearly died.
No, I’m not talking about the bad heart valve and the subsequent open heart surgery. I’m not talking about when my wife shot me in the neck with a nail gun. I’m not talking about any of the times I was hit by a bus while driving. I’m not even talking about when I almost fell from my second-story roof. This time I was just looking at beautiful landscapes with our neighbor and BAM! I almost died. That view was killer, almost.
During our first few months in Paraguay we developed a friendship with our neighbor. I’ll call him Francisco…because that’s his name and it’s also cool to say. Try saying it like this–Frahnseesco– see? Cool, huh? Anyway…
Francisco wanted to show off a piece of land that his family owns. They own a “mountain.” It’s a fantastic spot full of fruit and coconut trees tucked away hidden from the rest of the earth. We followed him along the path as he climbed the hill leading us to a place where the trees thinned and a rocky out-cropping took over the ground.
We walked out on this granite shelf and found we were on top of the world. 180 degrees of unobstructed view for infinity. The landscape just melted away somewhere out there where my eyes failed to see it.
A few weeks later we asked Francisco to take our visiting friends out to the cliff so they could see the beauty of Paraguay stretched out. He said his brother would drive us over to the property in their ox-cart. You can’t beat that so we set a time and went to prepare.
I decided this time I would where those old steel-toed work boots I brought. They were much more rugged than my standard New Balance kicks. I grabbed my binoculars and put on my work jeans. To top it all off I wore my fishing hat with all the flag patches from my travels. I was ready. I was in full Dora the Explorer mode.
It took us about 20 minutes to get there as the mammoth beasts lumbered along. We parallel parked the oxen and hiked the trail to the lookout. This rocky platform is an overhang that hovers 60 feet or so above a boulder graveyard.
As we were all getting our OOhs and AAAhs on I stepped around to get a different angle. The moment I sat my foot down it was gone. I was like a drunk on ice skates. I landed on my tail in a slide toward the edge. Frantic, I reached back and caught hold of a tiny little sapling growing through a crack in the stone. It was about two feet tall and thick as a Sharpie marker. It held fast and stopped my impending death. With my momentum halted, I stood and walked back to the top. I chuckle now at how much I looked like a cartoon character clinging to that twig hanging from a mountain.
At this point I decided to soil myself.
Ok, I didn’t “decide” I just did.
Kidding, I’m just kidding.
I was prepared for this trip so what happened?
I was careless and arrogant:
- I had been before and thought I knew what I was doing.
- I came better prepared and thought that would protect me from any problems.
- I took my eyes off my present circumstance too long. I let the lure of “out there” take my attention away.
- I wasn’t satisfied with the “average” experience everyone was getting. I wanted a little more for myself.
- I just didn’t respect the danger.
You’d think I would learn, but some of these same failures were plaguing me this weekend. I wasn’t sliding to my certain death on a pile of razor-sharp rocks, but I was needlessly floundering in turmoil. If only I would allow my steps to be ordered of God.
Have you nearly died? Are you confident when you prepare for something? Do you take your eyes of the present and get in trouble?