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.