Helicopter rescue: January 15, 2009 off piste skiing, in SportGastein Austria.
I am sharing this story, because: Nature is to be respected, no matter what mood it is in.
I have always been thankful for all my opportunities, and have never taken a second for granted. I have always respected nature, understanding that it gives as well as takes. This specific story involves my helicopter rescue in the Austrian Alps. When I think of my surviving a brain tumor, I first think of the fact that I should have been found in the Spring thaw, if I was not rescued by helicopter. The day started with clear skies and sunshine, perfect conditions, but out of nowhere nature seemed to turn on a dime. Nature finds its ways to stop us in our tracks, put everything into perspective, and at times seriously challenging us. We cannot escape the power of nature, so we might as well try to embrace it.
When nature is overpowering, all the we can do is step back, and reevaluate. We also should step back and evaluate when nature is pristine and inviting, because that is generally a very small window of opportunity. I for one experienced this during my helicopter rescue in Austria, and understand very well the expression "the calm before the storm".
Staring at an image of your brain with a tumor is a humbling experience, because I truly realized how powerful, and beautiful nature is. Nature is unpredictable, and we cannot control it, nor should we. Nature must be respected, no matter what challenges it presents us.
When I was living in Austria, I went on a solo 3 day trek around the SportGastein valley. Each day I walked from sunrise to sunset staying at different refuges. At the end of the 3 days I was absolutely exhausted, but unbelievably content. It was strange but as I was walking during the day, it was undescribeably peaceful, just me and the alps, the glaciers. I felt a sense of peace, calm, and that this was a very special trek for me. I did not at all feel alone, or worried, because I was with nature itself. i did feel something strange, that I could not pinpoint, that something was going to challenge me in the very near future. I felt that I would be challenged like I have never been challenged before. I have gone on many treks, many of them solo treks, but this one felt special, very intimate, as if the purpose of this trek was for nature to spend some time alone with me, with no distractions, allowing me to absorb as much strength from nature, because I was going to need it.
Long story short: One month later I was back in Chicago, and a couple of weeks after I lost my hearing, had balance issues, and found myself staring at my MRI image.
We all need to realize not only how powerful nature is, and challenging it can be, but that we ourselves are nature. If we get too cocky, we will receive a slap on the face, and if we are fortunate - a serious wake up call.
Tethered under the helicopter, above the clouds.