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Near Death Experience

In: English and Literature

Submitted By mwoodward
Words 800
Pages 4
After a near-death experience one might think “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.” What they should be thinking about is what got them into a near-death situation in the first place. Several years ago I had been working in Europe for more than 200 days straight. I was sick of the cold, dreary weather I was forced to endure day in and day out in the north of England. So when my friends suggested that I join them on vacation to go scuba diving in the Cayman Islands, I jumped at the chance to go. What I didn’t know at the time was that I would learn a valuable lesson - to trust my instincts and not to give into peer pressure. The first day on the island we went to one of the many dive shops that dotted the harbor along the port town of Stingray City. Although we were able to book three days of diving, we had to wait until the next day to make our first dive. We were all anxious to do something after the long plane ride. My friend Rex suggested that we go snorkeling in the coral reefs off of Seven Mile Beach. Personally, I thought that it was a bad idea. I was not a really strong swimmer, and we would be alone without a boat to pick us up if we got tired. But Rex and his brother Doug would not let go of the idea and pressured me into going, and against my better judgment I agreed to go. The turquoise blue water of the Caribbean Ocean was warm and calm. I was surprised by the gentle slope of the seabed and how far we were able to walk out before we could no longer touch the bottom. We were soon diving in 15 feet of water. The vibrant colors of the coral, sponges and exotic fish was mesmerizing. My friends wanted to venture out into deeper water where the ocean was distinctively darker; where the larger fish could be found.
I was already uncomfortable where we were, given that the shoreline was now some 600 yards behind us. I definitely did not want to out any farther. Rex said “You can do what you want, but we’re going farther out.” At that point I knew that I needed to turn back. It was time for me to stop being influenced by my friends and do what I thought was right for me. After a few minutes of swimming back to the beach, I looked toward the open water, but could not see my friends. Ahead the beach looked like a thin ribbon of white sand far off in the distance. I was now alone. When snorkeling you have nothing to keep yourself afloat. This is where being a good swimmer matters, and after being in the water for 45 minutes, I was getting tired. As I came within 100 yards of the shore I noticed the effect of a rip tide and had to swim harder to overcome its grip. I was immediately conscious of the increased effort needed to continue moving forward and was starting to feel exhausted. And then things got exponentially worse. With each stroke that I made I began to feel a stinging sensation in my arms, chest and legs that was excruciatingly painful. What was happening to me? I moved my mask over my eyes and peered into the water. To my horror there were thousands of translucent jellyfish, each no bigger than a 50-cent piece. They were in every direction. I had no choice but to take the pain and swim through them. It was then that I realized that the toxins in their sting was shutting down the nerve impulses to my muscles. I could hardly move my arms and legs and struggled to keep my head above water. I was about to drown! Then as quickly as the onslaught of jellyfish appeared, they began to dissipate and the strength in my muscles started to return as the effect of the poison waned. It was then that I knew I would make it back to the beach. Still weakened from the encounter with the jellyfish, I rolled over on my back and kicked my legs for what seemed like an eternity. When I finally reached the beach I crawled on all fours and collapsed in the sand, rejoicing to be back on terra firma.

As I lay on my back, looking at the clouds on the horizon, I reflected on how I should have trusted my instincts and not given into peer pressure. What doesn’t kill doesn’t makes you stronger. What makes you stronger is realizing how to avoid situations that can kill you in the first place.

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