Here are some things I have done in my life that took my breath away.
• About 1970, when living in Miami, I went with a group of friends on a sailboat out into the ocean. We went far away from the city lights. A few people jumped into the ocean and I saw for the first time, the bioluminescence of small sea creatures lighting up the sea around the people. As they moved the creatures grew brighter. Wow, this was amazing to see. I grew up in Miami Beach and spect a lot of time in the water, but never before at night so far out at sea. I jumped into the sea and experienced the luminescence all around me. It was exhilarating, frightening, and hard to make sense of the sensations. The more I moved, the more the creatures lit up around me. I felt I was swimming in a sea of stars. Now there are tours to visit places where one can experience this. In 1970, it was all new.
• I offered my granddaughter, age 10, a special day with just the two of us. On my last trip to California, we had our day. She chose to go to a park with zip lines, parcourse, climbing walls, and other rugged outdoor fun. We went early when the park opened. It was great to have the place to ourselves. We were instructed in the use of the safety harness and clips, and off we were for the next three hours. I was surprised at how well I could keep up with her. She loves to do any activity that involves, leaving the earth for a short time. We were about three stories up in the course when we decided it was time to stop. There was a platform called, ‘Free Fall’. The idea is simple enough. You clip yourself to a ring attached to a pulley device that works on magnets. Then you step off the platform into thin air. The device should gently lower you to the ground. We looked at each other and I quickly suggested she go first. She says okay. After all, the worst that could happen was we could die. I watched her make it look easy as she floated down to the ground. Then it was my turn. I clipped myself to the device, and stood for more than a few moments with my heart racing, my legs feeling week, and my mind telling me it was dangerous. I was not very happy about the situation. I had to find the courage and trust to take that step off the platform over 30 feet in the air, into nothing. I did find the courage, took my step and floated to the earth. Once was enough.
• Hiking in a remote part of the mountains near to Santa Fe, my friend and I were taking a short cut to get down the mountain before dark. On one section of large boulders, some bigger than a refrigerator and weighing much more. I jumped down next to a large boulder and it began to lean towards me. In an instant, I saw myself being crushed against the rock face. Just as mysteriously the rock began to lean towards me, it then was stopped by another boulder. The whole experience lasted just seconds, but it was long enough to allow me to imagine being crushed to death on a remote mountainside.
• This was when I literally had the breath knocked out of me. I was on a new horse, who had decided he did not want me on his back. He ran as fast as he could towards a fence and at the last minute, he stopped. I flew over the fence catching the barbed wire with my shirt and waist. I landed upsidedown with the wind knocked out of me. After some seconds, I was able to breathe again. I remember my first words were a shock to me, I was angry at ruining a new shirt now torn and bloody.
• It was a very cold night with much snow on the ground. A friend and I were driving back to the house where we were staying outside of Santa Fe. It was remote and beyond the lights of the city. Beyond any lights, so when we turned off the car headlights, the sky exploded with twinkling stars. We both got out of the car on our way to the house, but after a few steps just froze in place to look up at an amazing view. So many stars. So clear and all seemed to be flashing just for us. We stood there in the cold with snow almost up to our knees. Unable to move or speak we just stared for minutes as we could until we began to notice the cold penetrating our body. Then we had to move. We could barely speak of the experience to each other for days. It was so deep, so personal, so vast, as to be beyond words.
Moments like these are a jolt towards a deeper understanding of myself. It is important to note in each of these examples and many more in my life, they were all unplanned. A spontaneous event. A gift. I have learned to accept all these gifts as an expression of a loving universe.