Intuition: Part Three: Unexpected Endings
Not a good day at the office.
Northland's Te Ari Point, was an uninhabited, white sandy beach on the east coast of New Zealand. It was a place that you knew you wouldn't see many others; perhaps a few Dolphins which seemed to enjoy surfing as much as we did. My friends and I had driven through the night to get to one of our favourite spots. We arrived at Te Ari on a clear, pitch black night, with enough time to catch 3- 4 hours sleep before sunrise. We didn't get much sleep though, as anticipation and the breaking waves toyed with our tiredness. We were there to surf some of the best waves that had hit the east coast for months. Before the sun had appeared above the horizon we had already scarred the days first glassy 8 - 10 foot waves. The best part of the day was now, the offshore wind hadn't yet taken the oiliness off the sea and the waves seemed like gentle giants. A 'had to be there' occasion. The very reason, surfers are addicted to one of mother nature's examples of perfection.
After eight hours of continuous physical movement a body generally tires; but often with surfing you don't really notice the tiredness, as it is masked behind the adrenelin that provides such a buzz that you don't want to stop. Besides, with the change of tide and other conditions, afternoon gave us far bigger waves, in the range of 12 - 14 foot. Awesome, a bit like sliding down the hand-rail from the second floor. But a tired body pumped with adrenelin is sooner or later going to shut down. When you ignore the signs that your body gives you, you probably deserve what comes next. In my case, the first, second and third sign warnings came to me as a really strong sense of something 'not fitting' which I foolishly brushed aside without much thought. Within an hour of those intuitive predictions, I would find the importance of listening to the things that your subconscious mind is telling you. Just listening can ensure that you take notice of the things that can turn days like this one from being a great day into a really bad one.
Te Ari Point, Cloud 9, Heaven.
At Te Ari, we had the choice of a point break, producing perfect right breaking waves, or numerous beach breaks, which peak and break right and left. We were surfing the point and being a 'goofy footer' best suited to left breaks; the big point waves were 'backhand' to me. When you catch big waves you must have quick reactions, though the masters will tell you; "Don't analyse it, just do it, it's all instinctive!" The last thing you need to do is make a mistake that could result in breaking your board, or your neck if you are surfing over a terrain of coral or rock shallows. Te Ari waves break over sand bars rising out of relatively deep water, which are 'guts' cut from the current and the perfect place to beach fish. Having cramp on a large wave is always going to be a recipe for a bad day.
Sure enough the second wave in the set was my nemesis. I got dumped completely after a free fall down the face of it, with my board attached to a bungee cord attached to my left ankle in a velcro strap. Hitting the bottom of the trough, the first thing you do is hope your board isn't going to take your head off. The wave is very capable of doing that without the help of your board and this one smashed me with all its power. Tumbled over and over, you are forced down in the turbulence for what seems hours sometimes and this was one of those times when, no matter how hard I tried, there seemed to be no surface. .
Finally breaking through the foam from the last wave, gave me about 20 seconds to catch my breath before the next wave was going to hit me. This is the worse place to be; I was right in the main break, which meant that every wave in this set was going to smash me, unless I moved from this zone. The options; get out of the break. "Okay where’s my board, what - where’s my leg rope – oh great when did I loose my board?" The next wave rose to punish me for my intrusion.
You process a lot of information in a split second; “I have to dive under this wave, kick to the surface and find where my board is; if I’m lucky it won’t have got too far towards shore.” “Okay there it is maybe 150 metres away inshore, I’ll body surf to it, omg I hope it’s going to stay there and not get pushed onto the rocks inshore. Okay here’s my ride. Argh I’m cramped again, okay dive through this one, it’ll pass, maybe just catch the broken white water on the next one, how many waves left in this set?”
Striking out in a free style effort to swim with cramp was the worst. I had to stop, but now I couldn’t even tread water to stay afloat. Both my feet and legs were completely cramped up and the more I tried to move my toes the worse it became. Now your usually calm confident nature is being seriously tested and you reach the point where you have to admit; "Okay now I am in trouble, I can’t even float on my back. How am I going to deal with this?" Smash and down I went again, tumbled and so tired, this time I couldn't relax, stay calm and not panic.
This experience taught me not to fear death. Do you fear death?
Never question what you know...
I did everything else that I knew from experience, not to do. Panic, complete panic, I couldn't swim, my legs felt like lead, over and over, need air, my lungs are burning, breathe and you do! You expel the air and replace it with mouthfuls of salt water. Why? Why can't I breathe. I have to fight this. I feel sick, I can't die like this! Swim, kick hard, get up to the top, take another breath and you do. I could see the sun shining through in beams of light. I felt a peace come over me, I was warm and was welcome in this place. The current moved me gently with each wave passing overhead. A mass of bubbles as they broke above. Wow this is not so bad, I feel a tranquility that is so nice.
I watched flashes of my life experiences, faces, conversations, happy times, sad times, my life everything in slow motion, everything blending with my drowning, I am drowning, this is the maximum experience, this where i am meant to be.... But I'm happy here ............ Unconsciousness.
The next level..
Somehow, now my eyes are open and I am looking down on the lifeless form of myself. My body was about 2 metres below the surface; moving; back and forth, my hair seemed to be flowing with the current, my limbs seemed limp and weightless. I cast a shadow over the sandy bottom. I could see small fish darting through the seaweed attached to a large pile of rocks. Two crabs engaged in a tug of war over some tasty morsel. I thought they should wait and fight over my remains. Lots of shrimps moved over the anemones, forcing them to close, small scallops half buried in the sand, sharp colours on the edge of their shells, so much life below the form that was me. I could see everything with so much clarity, such a great peacefulness, I was at peace. Over and over my subconscious told me I was safe, this is not my end, enjoy this. I listened to this and was not afraid, this was an amazing experience, I knew I was safe because I was aware of everything around me.
My thoughts were clear, but they were not from the body below. I was floating above the whole scene, as if my spirit had left the shell that had been my body. I thought about my friends; I could see them but they didn’t know what had happened, they were used to me being the last out of the water. They had stopped watching the surf and were standing by the van having lunch! C’mon you guys turn around and see my board is floating towards shore, what does that tell you? Nothing, they were completely oblivious to what was happening. I looked back at this lifeless surfer and thought about my girlfriend and how upset she would be at me for ruining our holiday plans.
I am not dying, I know I am not dying and have much to live for. I tried to reach down to touch my body, but I couldn’t and I couldn’t wake it up, why? I know then I started to feel a panic rising within me at the helplessness I felt. No I was told do not panic, be still and see that you are safe. My subconscious told me to call to them and they will hear me. I don’t know how, but I looked back at my friends and they were picking up my board from the rocks and looking out to sea. I heard “Hold on mate, hold on mate” this was not a voice I knew, but it was directed at me. I turned my view away from my friends, towards this voice. It was the other surfer, who had been surfing 800 metres away. He was paddling flat out in my direction.
At 400 metres away he stopped and paddled around in a circle as if he was looking for a spot on the surface where he believed he had seen me. I could hear his thoughts; he kept saying, "where are you where are you mate." He was impatient to find me. I tried to tell him look over here, I’m here. I focused my sight only on him and I shouted to him; Here, I’m here, keep paddling. He sat up on his board and looked straight at me. I could see his green eyes, warm and concerned, looking directly at me and I knew his name was Phil. I’m here, not far, keep going. I told him. He could hear me and I could hear his thoughts. How could this be? I looked to the shore and two of my friends were heading out towards me as well, they were yelling to the other guy Phil, who just kept paddling across the waves towards me. He stopped and sat on his board directly beneath me and above the body below. "Okay I’m right here where are you mate?" I was above him and he was above my lifeless form. I didn't get a chance to respond to him: My world went Black. Everything was gone. Black.. Nothing... Gone!
Back to earth...
I awoke with a jolt. My hair had been ripped out and my chest was being thumped and thumped. I heard muffled voices and felt the heat of the sun. One of my friends had now arrived and between the two of them they had managed to drape me over a board, while this stranger had brought me back. I was back in my body again, the cramp had gone. I don’t know how much water was forced from my lungs but it seemed an endless amount. I was flat and remember holding on tight to the rails, as I got carried towards shore in the white water of a large wave. My life saver, body surfed on the same wave.
The hardest part of that day was walking up the beach. I have never been so completely physically and mentally drained. I just flopped down on the beach above the high water mark. Someone threw my towel at me and I replayed what had happened in my mind. There wasn't any fussing, we had all helped each other out at some time before today. We were all good swimmers, so we never considered that we could drown or really get into trouble. It wasn't until the big guy came over grinning and slapped me on the back, that my friends actually understood what had happened.
I thanked my new friend for saving my life and he just smiled and said "No worries mate." He had an Aussie accent. "I'm Phil, I come from Brisbane." His name Was Phil.. how did I know that? I asked him how he knew that I was in trouble, when he was so far away. "We were the only guys surfing out there; you always need to know that someone is out there as well, it makes you surf better of course!"
But how did you know how to find the exact spot if I was underwater? "You told me where you were, I heard you, that's why I knew how to find you!" Phil, you stopped and asked me where I was didn't you mate? "Yeah and you told me, so here we are! How's your head? Sorry man I fished you out by the hair?" Phil, you saved my life.. don't apologize mate, thank you. "Have a good one mate, gotta fly, see you at the Wellsford pub tonight, you can buy me a beer!" With that he picked up his board and jogged off down the beach towards his car.
We went to the Wellsford pub that night, but Phil was not there. I hoped that we would meet again surfing, but we never did. I didn't know this man; but we communicated on another level. From the experience, I learned so much from him, about myself and about intuition. Where ever your life took you Phil; thank you my friend; you taught me to never walk away from someone in trouble and I owe you a beer.
© Copyright 2009 - 2013 Pearldiver - Art of the Diver with all rights reserved.
More words by Pearldiver.
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- Such Love: A Tribute to The Free Spirit of Loss
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- When There is No More: A Poem of Hope: About the End.
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