Falling Through The Darkness. Literally.

Okay, so last post I made a comment about the path ending and bad things happening and I said I’d explain next time. Well, this is that story.

It was spring of 2008, and I was in the San Juan Islands studying orca whales. Some of my fellow student researchers and I decided to go camping on Doe Island. We found a perfect campsite, set up camp, and settled in to enjoy a nice night camping. We had to be out on the water the next day to finish our field work, so it was a sober night. I feel it important that I explain that fact.

Night comes, we successfully lit a fire, and we’re hanging out around the campsite talking when we decided to take a group picture. A camera was set up on a timer for the picture and we went to move into position. For me, this meant moving around the fire to join the others who were already grouped on the other side. And this is where everything went sideways. Literally.

The campfire was in a metal pit, common at most designated campsites, and had a metal grate that one would use to cook. We, not having had anything to cook and in the interest of fully enjoying the fire, had removed the grate and set it aside. More specifically we had set it off to the side I was now moving around, where it was hidden in the shadow of the flames. I tripped, stumbled sideways, caught myself briefly before falling through the darkness. You see, this particular campsite was on a small cliff.

Falling away from a fire and into darkness seems like a perfect metaphor for the darker moments I’ve had with my depression, and it is not something I recommend. In the end I tumbled kicking blindly off the cliff face, before landing on very unforgiving rock some 20-25 feet below. Amazingly, I didn’t break anything, and even managed to climb back up the cliff afterwards (another lovely metaphor for picking yourself up after those dark times), although I was basically a walking bruise for the next few days. Well, not so much walking bruise as shuffling bruise, walking hurt too much. The injuries passed and I eventually healed (you guessed it, another metaphor).

So why do I still think of this moment, and why do I share it? Is it because of the metaphors? No, but that isn’t a bad answer come to think of it. It is because during the entire day, of all the things that I had been anxious about, falling of the cliff was, strangely, not one of them. And yet it happened anyway. And even though something bad happened, I had people who were there for me and I dealt with it when the time came. And so, I use that moment to remind myself that being anxious doesn’t save you from unforeseen falls into darkness. And even if something bad happens, it isn’t necessarily the end of the world, and the risk of something bad happening certainly isn’t worth letting your anxiety get between you and the world. Instead anxiety is a horribly useless bedfellow, holding you back from living your life and deserving of a swift kick off the side of a cliff. And lucky me I know just such a cliff.

 

P.S. As I mentioned, the camera was on a timer. Here is the result…

Into Darkness
Where did Juan go?

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