A Simple Proposition

by Christopher Lovejoy on September 11, 2011

I believed I had done everything I could to make it easy for a search party to find me.

I stood like a statue on the southern shore of the island, meditating on a vast field of whitecaps appearing and disappearing on the surface of an endless expanse of sea.

Over a span of five days, I had signalled with flags, fires, and flashes. After five days of waiting, watching, and wondering, I was resigned to taking the rescue into my own hands.

I reflected on my first day here and thought of a possibility that disheartened me.

I was asleep in the shade of a palm tree with large, swaying fronds. Perhaps the copter I heard was real, arriving when the white flag I had planted was nowhere to be seen from the air.

Memories of what-could-have-been started creeping into my awareness. If only …

If only I had double-checked the forecast before leaving the mainland. But I was excited, eager to get going as planned. At least I had checked the forecast the night before. I knew better now.

If only I had switched off the ham to keep it fully charged. I would’ve been able to send a distress call. But I remember that I was testing a device I had never used before. When I set it aside, I recall that I was distracted by a boat at the marina that had gotten too close to my line of travel.

I couldn’t beat myself up over this one. Nor would I.

If only I had chartered a bigger, better yacht. I surely would have reached the island before the storm struck. But I had to remind myself that the deal I made included lessons with an experienced skipper who also happened to be an effective and patient teacher, which I appreciated.

If only I had stayed awake that first morning. I would’ve been able to alert the copter pilot, if indeed there was one. I shook my head dismissively. Whether there was or wasn’t a copter that flew overhead that day, I was exhausted from the day before. I hadn’t slept all night.

If only I had planted my white flag more firmly, or more strategically. I wouldn’t be here now with all of these memories of what could have been. Maybe, maybe not. Regardless, I was too stupid from a lack of sleep to strategize about where to plant the makeshift flag. I had to let this one go.

All of these apparent blunders were an integral part of my life at the time they had occurred, from a past that sometimes moved faster than I could control.

If I had known better, I would have made better choices.

I brought my mind back to the present. I still didn’t have a shelter in the event of rain, I still hadn’t found a source of fresh water, and I still hadn’t fully explored the island for food.

A small part of me told me to give it up, but a bigger part of me told me to ramp it up.

My life had become a question, but it was also a proposition: do or die?

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