This morning, I went to a church – at the members’ request – to talk about what happened to me in the desert.
As always – I stressed the following: On the one hand, my experience left me hyper-aware of my mortality. On the other, it blessed me with a “So-the-fuck-what” mentality.
Here’s the thing. I now know that we don’t necessarily get some sort of forewarning of our impending doom. In my case, I went from admiring pretty yellow, waist-high flowers to nearly dying alone in the wilderness. Just. Like. That.
For a long time after my rescue, I fixated on all the ways in which I could suddenly die. At the same time, I suddenly had this amazing focus on all of the ways in which I could LIVE.
What does it mean to live? It means being you, even when being you makes other people uncomfortable. It means finding humor not only in the ridiculous, but in the many ways in which we try to take ourselves so seriously. It means eliminating unnecessary worry and drama from your day-to-day existence so that you can actually enjoy the experience of living.
It also means figuring out what really actually matters. It means calling “bullshit” on people. It means doing what’s right for you – not what is expected of you. Why? Because ever since the desert, my expectations for myself far exceed what anyone else could come up with. At the same time, I have to counter those expectations with an understanding of what I am capable – or not capable – of doing. I spent a lot of quality time with myself during my time alone in the wilderness. I know me. I know what I can do. I also now recognize my limitations.
So I tell you what I told church members this morning – my perspective regarding how I live my life is forever changed. I don’t expect everyone to understand it. But I do expect myself to do whatever I need to do to be true to … me.
The most transformative moment of my life was the afternoon that I was forced to accept that I was likely going to die alone – in the wild – without being able to offer any “last words.”
I vowed then that if I lived, I would speak up. For myself. For my family. For friends. For strangers.
It was only when I was lost in the wilderness that I finally found my voice. And I intend to use it.