A few years ago, a friend of mine fell off of Keimei, a 20-foot waterfall that leads directly into a shallow riverbed of jagged rocks in a steep gully. She broke her foot from the fall, but luckily we were able to get her out of the river and call emergency services. This was largely due to the efforts of our two good friends, Elise and Emily.
She recently asked me to write a retrospection upon the events that took place that night, so here it is:
I was sitting on a ledge by the waterfall when I heard a yelp. Looking to my left, I saw Meirav slide past me to break into the shallow water below. At first, I was unable to register the gravity of the situation. I originally thought that Meirav had simply decided to take a swim. Then I remembered that the ledge was twenty feet above the water, and that the water couldn’t have been more than a foot deep. Then the screaming began.
Looking back on the memory, I cannot believe how lucky we were to get Meirav out of there without causing further injury. As I walked back up the stony ledge with Meirav on my back, making sure not to jostle her foot, the thing I worried about most was slipping on the slimy wet stones that I was forced to use as footholds.
Just as this experience has caused profound growth within Meirav, it has also served as a definitive turning point in my own life. For the first time ever, I found myself in a position in which every single action I took had a direct impact on the people around me. More than anything, the situation proved to me the limits the human body can undertake given the right circumstances.
Without the support of Emmy and Elise, our two friends who were present at the time of the fall, I truly doubt I would have had the confidence to climb from the gully with Meirav on my back. Both Emmy and Elise were incredibly clear-minded in the situation, and were able to respond the situation appropriately. Their words of encouragement gave me the strength to continue on, while their watchful eyes gave warning of potential pitfalls I might have otherwise fallen into.
Although my entire experience in Japan was incredibly formative to my current ideology, this experience was especially inspiring. In Buddhist philosophy, there is a concept that certain life experiences can cause an “awakening”: an event during which a Being permanently ascends to a higher state of consciousness. Although I do not believe I truly experienced an awakening event, I know that this experience set into motion a true transformation within myself. In particular, the experience helped me understand something that Sadashi told me at the beginning of our trip:
At the time, Sadashi told me that I waste too much time dwelling on things of the future and the past; he told me that an artist must learn how to stay in the present moment. His words rang true with me, and I immediately attempted to concentrate on remaining in the present.
Although the exercise was intensively difficult then, and truthfully I do still sometimes find myself lost in memories of the past or predictions for the future, the event that took place at Keimei set into motion a transformation that has greatly assisted my ability to remain Present. After watching someone go from being perched at the top of a ledge at one moment, and at the bottom of a ditch howling in pain the next, I truly realized that any moment may be our last. Every moment is infinitely precious; we cannot afford to waste time dwelling on things that do not exist.