I have died once, and almost another two times. The first was when I was 28 and a ladder we were lowering came into contact with a high tension electrical line that caused thousands of volts of electricity to enter my hands and exit my feet—leaving me with four holes in my feet, one on each side of each one. The other two times I was surfing and was held under the surface by a big wave not sure my lungs had enough air to survive. The first time was in Manhattan Beach (El Porto), CA, and the other was in Jaco, Costa Rica.
The electric accident brought to me an absolute calm. Immediately, I knew I was dead, or dying. I was no longer in this world. The other two times brought with it panic. I wiped out on the wave and entered the “washing machine” below the surface, with its powerful grasp to keep you under and not allow you to know which way is up. During the Manhattan Beach event, I remember thinking, “All they’re gonna find of me is my truck in the parking lot.” At Jaco it was, “No shit. Now I’m gonna drown on the second to last day of what was a wonderful week of surfing great waves, and time with some of my brothers, a cousin and friends.”
The electrical accident was a divine encounter for sure. I’m certain that my Spirit left my body, was joined with its Source—that I believe to be God—then reunited with my body and started it back up again. The journey afterward to get better and go from just living to be alive was a hellacious one. I finally moved through that with a “surrender” that this life is not perfect, and this is okay, and with the support of my Faith, family and friends, I could move through it.
After the wipe outs in CA and CR and fighting Mother Nature for 5 or so seconds—underwater—on her “home field”, I also surrendered. I let my body go limp and surrendered to the current and turbulence. I did not fight, I just let Mother Nature have her way with me. As I did this, I felt calmer, more trusting, and felt Her lighten her “grip” on me. Eventually, things settled and I burst through the surface, gulping a huge breath of air. I made my way to the beach where I remember saying a few Hail Mary’s and being full of gratitude.
I believe in life we all—at some time or another—will be held under by the strong waves of life. We will lose a loved one, often way to early. We will lose a job. We will be betrayed in one of our relationships. We will experience financial difficulty. We will be hijacked and steamrolled through a tragic accident. We will return from war. Yes, welcome to life, it’s not perfect, but it is beautiful.
If you’re reading this you know what I’m talking about. Perhaps you’re in a tough time right now, or you know there will be more as the journey continues. So, what to do in these times? First, surrender. Surrender yourself to this existence and acknowledge that pain and suffering are part of our human journey, and take a deep breath…and a few more. Second, seek the support of your Faith (in whatever way works for you, there are many different paths to God), your family and your friends. Third, harness the power of your imagination to develop the image of a time in the future (your vision) when you have moved through your pain. And finally, take action. Each day ask yourself, “What must I do today to move toward my vision.
To sum it up simply…surrender, and take the actions to break through the surface.