Reliving the Fall
by John Dorsey Wolf
Occasionally my experience of September 17, 2007 gets relived in some form.
In the early evening in a side canyon of the Grand Canyon, I slipped and fell 35′ feet backward off of a ledge into a small pool of less then 1′ of water and smacked onto a gravel bottom. The area was surrounded by massive rocks, and since I was facing the sky I assumed death was a given. I’ve made the calculations and it was like flying unprotected (except for a fanny pack) into a pile of gravel at 30 mph. A dozen witnesses experienced it with me, and all saw me get up and walk out (very shook) with absolutely no physical sign of damage, not even a tiny bruise. I have a picture of me sitting in the water on the gravel.
This kind of event sticks with you, as many people associated with this site who have had their own awakening experience know.
Twice during this month it has come up in conversation with friends, including one couple who were next to me on the trail when it happened.
My experience of unexpected survival garners three kinds of reactions in people.
One reaction is that it must be explainable somehow, someway within the bounds of today’s accepted cultural and scientific standards. This line of thinking makes the assumption that if we worked at it, we actuality could calculate it was technically possible. I’ve thought this way myself when I heard of an occasional “freak” survival. For me it was perhaps a coping mechanism that avoided having to face the unexplainable head on, or at least it delayed it. It’s the same approach when I mentally put myself into the “wait and see”, or the “I’ve got to be convinced with some kind of scientific data or facts”, or “I just don’t have the time or wherewithal to deal with it” mode.
A second kind of reaction is that it truly was a miracle, in a religious sense. This has interesting ripples. For those who themselves are seeking a “miracle”, it becomes hope. It becomes evidence that miracles can happen. Personally I am concerned that miracle-believing and miracle-seeking has a edge to it: how do we account for the requests not granted? Who grants them, and who gets them, and why do many not experience them? To be blunt, if miracles are doled out by God or his/her select cadre of angelic beings, then those not receiving them must be in some way not worth saving. Sometimes calling something a miracle avoids the more difficult path of wrestling with its reality; that is, the complexities of a reality that can include these events without God’s direct intervention. And it’s been said before that the greater good may not always be served by every miracle we hope for.
I’ve (chosen) to see the experience a third way. From the moment I got up and walked away, I knew it had meaning, but for me it wasn’t a “miracle” in the religious sense, even though it defied the laws of physics. Instantly I knew that it was a) real in that it was consistent with some kind of mechanisms of reality, just ones that I couldn’t understand, and b) it was a message that there is more going on than I was paying attention to, and it was high time I got started finding out what and why.
Now as I reflect on it, it is evident that I could have chosen a different reaction, and my subsequent timeline would be different. I can understand other people still interpreting it either of the first two ways, and that the third choice is less likely for them. That choice was essentially acceptance of the invitation to explore and transform, even though I hadn’t the slightest idea what that would entail at the time. For me it was an offer I couldn’t refuse.
One thing I learned from the most recent conversation is this experience is still rippling and impacting others, 9 years later. And I also recognize their reaction is their choice, not mine.