The Day I Nearly Drowned



The wind had been howling for two days and two nights, raising high walls of foamy water. The sand was assaulting our eyes, skin and nostrils; we were craving the relief of a swim, while slowly turning into burnt chicken nuggets under the blazing sun.


But it was too dangerous, so we stayed on the beach.


On the third day though, the wind subsided considerably. Swimming far into the open sea was probably not a smart idea, but close to the shore, you could have a lot of fun jumping over the waves.


So after an hour of roasting, I joined the large group of tourists that were already in the water. The waves seemed quite strong, so I decided that going in up to my waist was safe enough. I could also feel a bit of current pushing me to the left.


One jump, two jumps, three jumps… and the waves took me away from the group. Another one is coming; here I am right on top…. and when I land, I no longer find the ground. I fall to the bottom of a deep hole that wasn’t there three days ago.


I swim upwards and barely get to breathe in when a wave hits me from behind and sends me back to the bottom.


OK, up you go, get some air, I encourage myself… but I don’t get to completely fill my lungs before another wave sends me heads first into the sand.


OK, that was scary, don’t panic, just get your head out to breath. I struggle upwards and feel the current pulling me forcefully into the sea. One good gasp and the liquid hammer turns me upside down, head on to the bottom.


It’s amazing how many thoughts you can have in a few seconds.

What if I can’t get out?
What if I die?
How could I have been so stupid?
I should have known better!


I am lucky to catch a break between waves and manage to get my head out to breathe properly. I still can’t feel the ground beneath my feet.


I turn around and cry out for help, hoping my voice will carry through the noise, but most people are far away and can’t see me.


Then a man appears to my right, and he hears me. He comes towards me and pulls me by the arm. I notice that he is actually standing, not swimming. In a few moments, my feet touch solid ground, and I’m in waist-high water again. Panting, I’m heading to the safety of the shore, but an hour later I’m still shaking.


The scariest thing in my near-drowning experience was how the blows kept on coming. That relentless pounding that knocked me down mercilessly and barely allowed me to gasp for air.


There can be many times when we have to struggle like this. When we feel that life is handing us blow after blow and we’re down at the bottom, helpless and alone.


As we watch others who seem to jump and glide through difficulties effortlessly, we start to judge ourselves and think we’re less than them. That somehow, it’s our fault we can’t handle the storm because we’re not good enough.


Anybody can fall into an unexpected pit.

Those who float and laugh aren’t better than those hit down; they are just luckier.


What we should never forget though, is to ask for help. Right next to us there may be somebody standing on the stable ground who can grab and hold us to safety.


Somebody who will be more than happy to help us, if only they knew what we’re going through.


But we do need to ask.


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