Near-Death or Go Home

I’ve almost died twice now, and I’m kind of ready for it to happen again.

First Time

I’m 19 years old in Pusan, South Korea; climbing mountain Geumjeongsan, to see Beomeosa, a 1,3000 year old Buddhist temple nestled somewhere near the top. Awesome right?

I get an early start, but, somehow start walking down hill because that’s what the map says. I waste hours and have to turn around. I’m getting lost (again) and I’m starting to freak out. I befriend this yellow rope, named yellow, who became my guide to the top. I’m telling this yellow rope my whole life story, I love yellow. Then the yellow rope stops. I’m totally lost, there’s no one around, the overcast sky is scarcely gleaming through the trees.

I decide to trek on; I have goals here people.

While jogging uphill through the vegetation I fall forward, scrape my knee and kind of bang my head hard and I see blood on my fingers. I crack my ankle in a way and now it hurts to walk.

All I thought is…crap, thank G-d I’m not more severely hurt, it’s getting more difficult to see and if I had broken my ankle instead of merely hurting my ankle, or if I had hit my head unconscious, instead of just a little, I would be completely Sh*t out of luck. I think “I really shouldn’t be out here alone.”

But, I decide to trek on.

Eventually I just can’t find this amazing temple and I read about the top of a mountain which was blessed by a fish G-d or fish Angel. The fish promises the mountain will always have water, and if you drink the water you’ll be immortal. I can’t be positive though because it wasn’t written in English, and my Chinese isn’t that awesome. So OK, let me find this blessed water.

I find the watering hole. The view is amazing. I’m sweaty. I’m tired. My hair is a mess. I’m taking a bunch of selfies on my digital camera the wind is blowing something fierce. I’m so scared to drink the water because it’s obviously dirty and full of dead bugs so I just rub a little on my lips (for the experience – I had to) it’s amazing, I’m so happy after this 7 hour journey I got SOMEWHERE. and I my birthday is in 3 days, life is just great.

Mind you, I’m at the top of a cliff. There is no rope, there are no steps, there is absolutely nothing from you and the bottom. If I look down I see the tops of trees and a bunch of grey stuff. I’ll take an educated guess and call that stuff, rock.

Of course I lose my balance and I fall. My legs are dangling and I’m holding nothing. My body is so heavy and I can’t move at all, I’m in complete shock.

Quickly, I realize I’m going to die. I have no upper body strength, there’s no way I can pull myself upward. I did ONE pull-up in elementary school. This is not my thing.

Not many people want to die, and I don’t either. An eerie calm comes over me and every decision I’ve ever made, flashes before me. I’m extremely disappointed.

I start regretting all the love I never showed to people who deserved it. “Why did I act like that?”

Thinking about the many petty situations I wasted time on. “I could have taken the high road.”

Regretting the chances I didn’t take. “I should have at least tried.”

Regretting all the nonsensical situations which arose out of my selfish ego. “I’ve been so selfish.”

All the times I remained silent in a time speech was necessary. “Why didn’t I speak up?”

I regret not being more woke. “Why didn’t I care more about others?”

I really don’t remember how, what happened, but I pulled myself up and quickly ran down the mountain (carefully and quickly) by the time I reached the bottom it was pitch black. The entire journey back to my hotel I was thanking G-d for helping me, promising I would do better and promising myself I would do better, saying I would live a more meaningful, helpful and impactful life.

I wouldn’t be the same if I hadn’t almost died that day. It happened twice more, and I still don’t think I’ve learned my lesson. It’s crazy I have to feel death to appreciate life.

Each time I almost die, I become a better person, and considering I can always be a better human to the rest of you all, I’m ready for some growth. So maybe I should almost die again.

 

 

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