August 4, 2009

My friend was "dead" for an hour

Last Sunday I went to Delray Beach (Florida) with a friend. As soon as we arrived he went straight to the water and started swimming towards the ocean. I saw him struggling with the waves for a couple of minutes and then I lost him.

He grew up in Queens and is a great swimmer, so I didn't worry, because I thought I would see him again in a while. But after half an hour I started looking around trying to identify him among other swimmers, and I didn't succeed...

Then I thought he might be in trouble, but since I wasn't sure I didn't want to alert the lifeguards. So I finally decided to go myself to "rescue" him. I swam towards where I last saw him as fast as I could and, when I reached open water, I was worn out. And that was the very moment in which I thought my friend could have died...

I kept swimming and swimming looking for him, and in my exhaustion, there came a sequence of fatal thoughts (my friend has died and how am I going to tell his family?...) that clouded my mind and I felt overcome. Apparently, lifeguards saw me floundering and they "awoke" me with the noticeable sound of a horn, because I shouldn't have been swimming that far out. I just obeyed them and swam back to the beach, as tired as a castaway.

Fortunately, a few minutes later, I saw my friend enjoying the waves, one hundred meters to the right.


I've thinking since then how easily we lose perspective when we are either tired or under pressure. And I would like to have learnt a lesson from this experience: not to analyse a situation nor take decisions when you're tired or under pressure. And therefore, not to react immediately. I hope I will remember this lesson next time I receive an annoying email or participate in a tense meeting.

Delray Beach is beautiful, anyway, and we spent a great day.


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  2. Yeah... The problem is: what about all those people out there who always feel tired or under pressure? They'll never make decisions! And some of them always hesitate for too long and that makes them even more tired, and with so many pending decisions they really are under pressure all the time... I prefer to use the advice they gave me the first time I went diving, when I looked at the divemaster with panic in my eyes and said, a second before descending: "What if something horrible happens???" He said: "Life is full of extra "10 seconds bits"... For ten seconds, do nothing apart for breathing very slowly. Then take action". In that case my worry was: "What is the "horrible thing" is that I run out of air!" :-)

  3. If that horrible thing happens, just enjoy your last ten seconds on Earth (or rather on "Water") with the amazing view of the ocean...


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