Book 4

Heaven is Real

‘Survive or Die. It’s that Simple!’

I’m very lucky to be here to write about an event that happened to me many years ago and is now indelibly burned into my memory.  I’m sure that all of us in life have or will have something that will occur that will call on and challenge our deep rooted primal survival instincts. 

That defining moment happened to me and I did everything in my power to survive and when the time comes for you, you’ll have to make that choice.

It’s that simple!

I’m thinking back in time when in early December of 1973 I was washed out or I could say grabbed off a rocky mountain ledge in Acapulco and taken about a tenth of a mile out to sea by some freak rogue wave that came out of nowhere.

It was the most harrowing Mother Nature ordeal I had ever experienced up to that point in my 24 years young life. 

Allow me now to try and put you with me in real time as everything happened. The day started out very overcast, much cooler than normal and the sea’s were much to rough to go out diving and catching tropical fish. The night before was really windy with big puffy clouds moving rapidly in the sky and allowing in and out glimpses of the full moon.  The amazing Comet Kahoutek was just starting to peak in size and I had the good luck that happens in life occasionally to be in one of the best night viewing places on the planet. This one of a kind heavenly star was something I shared viewing at night with my close friend TB and we always told any tourist we came upon to enjoy a rare heavenly night time spectacle. Without a doubt, we were witnessing night after night the growth of a once in a lifetime planetary occurrence. 

I cannot do justice to describe this magnificent steadily growing Comet, but I can best say that if you picture the largest full Moon of the year, then picture a rare star in the sky growing to half the size of the full Moon and equally if not brighter. That’s what we were experiencing for a good three months.

So for the fact of the rough seas and cool weather, my partner Julio and I canceled any ideas of diving today.  Our plan was to do our own thing for most of the day but later in the afternoon, we would meet up and have a talk about trying some new diving locations we had been scouting out. They jetted out from a different angle of the mountain cliffs, which made them easier to swim out to from our launching sandy beach area. The quality of the little fish would be the same but from our first experience over there, we found the underwater currents more manageable and that was a big factor for our tankless diving and netting.

We met around 3 pm and it was really windy and really cool weather so we were fully dressed wearing blue jeans, shoes and long sleeve shirts and that was totally unusual from the skin burning sunny climate of Acapulco.  

Our goal was to get a good viewing spot to catch all the different angles of the rocks and ledges, so we could just hang out and talk about ideas with each other. As it worked out we chose a spot to sit that was pretty high up, just under an area that had a really cool cottage type house built into the rocks. This location had a large jetting out massive rocky and tree growth land mass a hundred feet to the left of us, which gave us some blocking from the strong wind. We both commented a few times how strong the wind was and how the trees were getting whipped around and we noticed there weren’t any boats out anywhere in sight.  

We were just talking and sitting seventy-five feet above sea level, with a good view of everything from left to right in front of us. We noticed the ocean was unusually rough but then out of nowhere, a monster wave was churning and forming from far out and the speed of its power and growth came out of nowhere and grabbed me right off the rocks. . . Just like that! 

Julio was sitting to the right of me and got grabbed and almost nabbed but thankfully there was a bushy strong deep-rooted plant next to him and he hung onto it for dear life.  He was able to stay right there for the next few seconds, and then the rushing ocean backed off the mountain ledge with me in its clutches. He could only watch in shock as the ocean was like holding and eating me alive. . . . I was in deep trouble with Mother Nature making her overwhelming presence felt as it pulled me off that mountain ledge with such force and power, which both of us never had a clue or imagined a wave coming up so high and so fast at us.  From where we were sitting, you would have thought we would have seen this monster wave setting up, forming its growth with wave and wave coming towards us, but we didn’t and now I was in the fight of my life to survive.

It felt like it all happened in a split second, leaving me at first in a word, stunned. What was happening to me now was, I was being moved by giant rolling swell after swell taking me away and out further from the cliffs. This ocean action at first was putting my entire body under its control, moving me around as if I was in a wash cycle of a washing machine.  I sensed right away I had to get control, keeping my neck and head as high above the salty sea as possible or I was going to choke on the ocean water and soon after drown.  I remember thinking to myself to get as balanced in this rough sea as possible, , , and what I mean by that is I had to find the rhythm of the ocean, even as over  powering as it was. I had to ride with Mother Nature to survive.

Not even thirty seconds into being sucked out to sea, that I felt like all my clothes and shoes weighed like a ton of bricks trying to drag me downward.

My first instinct was I had to get those shoes off so I had more control to tread water and swim better. They had to come off but I had to concentrate to keep my head above the sea because the swells and undercurrent were feeling stronger and rougher. The first shoe came off with using the toe front area feeling and pushing downward on the back top spot of the shoe heel area.  

The first shoe came off relatively easy but the second shoe was at first difficult, so I quickly decided to switch the plan and get my blue jeans started because they were now feeling heavier by the second.  Fact was in that moment in time, they were now a priority to get off. . . I got the pants unbuttoned and then brought up my knees towards my gut and then slowly working my thumbs, I put them into the belt loops to push the pants down past my butt over then around to my knees.  That took me forever and felt like it took a lot out of me, but I wasn’t even half way finished. The ocean had no mercy, taking me up then down and at every second passing by, trying to drown me as I was a battling to get my pants passed my knees. My legs were beginning to have the feeling of being weighed down and I still had that one shoe to get off, so I instinctively lifted my head towards the sky and took in a deep breath, closed my eyes tight and then arched forward and curled my spine, then with my hands masterfully working in harmony, I removed my remaining tennis shoe and fluidly took off the rest of my pants. . . As soon as that task was done, I slowly straightened up my back but the presence of the underwater current was strong so I had to just fight it and resurface smoothly. . . As the same motion of my head coming above sea level, I purposely lifted my arms straight up to act like buoyancy lifts and stay above water and my legs working in tandem down below. 

Now all my instincts were kicking in and I had a mental surge of confidence I was making the right moves, so don’t stop now flashed through my mind, and I didn’t. . 

Now that my head was floating above the sea, I quickly did the same action of tilting my neck back, putting my face up to the sky and letting out the breath I was holding in and slowly regained my natural breathing order. 

I remember that took about a minute afterwards for my heart to slow down and regain my best as possible breathing sense of normalcy, under the conditions I was in. I just now needed to get my bearings back and continue fighting.  

As all that action was happening, I saw I was being taken out further with each swell and I have to admit that a split second of fear came over me, with the thought of I’m being wave by wave taken further out to sea and would never make it back to safety.

I , , ,I , , ,had to focus after those split seconds of panic rolled over me because I knew from other experiences that panic and fear can be, , a killer.  I had to step by step get stripped down and then use my months and hours of daily diving and training in the ocean, to will myself to fight on, to swim and somehow get control of this situation. That was it, plain and simple, so there was no giving up.

I wasn’t done though. . . I still had a long sleeve shirt draped over my shoulders and it felt like it was attacking me, trying to bury me right there as I was treading water.  You can’t even imagine how heavy it had become and if I didn’t get it off, it would have fatigued me, and that would have been the eventual end. . . 

Not trying to get down on myself but I started a thought that that shirt probably should have come off first.  I immediately canceled out that idea in my mind and put my attention on the task at hand. Another flash idea past through my mind and that was being acted upon instinctively. While thinking about getting the shirt off, I’m all of a sudden looking around for any kind of boat nearby but Julio and I commented just five minutes earlier there wasn’t a boat in sight. 

Now I thought my mind was grasping at straws automatically and I had to gain my focus and control my brains new developing over activity. YES, it may sound strange but I know what I am saying. 

The moves to get the shirt off weren’t easy but button by button first took place.  I had to continuously do my best to keep my head above sea level as I tried repeatedly to work my one hand to get the shirt sleeve out of my arm. I was thinking to myself this is ridiculous, I can’t even get one arm out of the sleeve and that’s unbelievable but true. 

The scary thing was, only maybe three full minutes of time had elapsed since I was taken off that cliff, but each second that went by felt like more weight kept adding onto my shoulders, challenging me mentally and physically, making the task of staying afloat harder.

That shirt just had to come off no matter how difficult because I wanted to live and it was an absolute must, , it became that simple. . . 

So what was happening with my first plan failed, meaning just a normal way of taking ones shirt off, I couldn’t do it. Other than ripping it off my back like the big Green Hulk guy, I did the next logical move.  I worked it little by little evenly over my shoulders, which I had to fight to do, then over my head. At this point the shirt was locked in around my arms in front of me and I immediately could feel the extra pressure and weight off my back and new found strength I desperately needed.  I knew what I wanted and had to do next, but that turned out not to be as easy as I thought it would be.  I worked that shirt inside out past my arms and over the ends of my fingers but the problem was the rough waters were taking me all over, jostling me around and for those seconds of not being able to use my hands and even fingers for balance, this task completely put me out of rhythm and allowed salt water to uncontrollably wash into my eyes and down my throat.  My eyes now were burning and I was gagging , , , and doing all the right trained moves to clear this water out of me and at the same time gain back my balance. . . All the re-action action I did worked but none of it was easy and I had momentarily totally lost my compass of where I was. . . Within ten seconds I’m back in the fight, , , feeling relief and thinking to myself I’m going to make it.  

I was so glad to get that long sleeve shirt off and how much lighter and in control I felt now, but my words here can’t truly capture of how much that helped to keep pushing me to hold on and somehow save myself.  

I’m being continuously heaved around in the sea but now trying to get my breathing composed, , , and then all of a sudden a big wave washed over me, over powering me to literally spin a 360 degree forward circling summersault motion underwater. I was out of control as fast as I thought I was in control and this time this ocean punch was the one I didn’t see coming and did the most sudden unexpected damage physiologically and physically.

As I came back upright and above the water level, I was choking, coughing, my legs were flailing and trying to work intelligently, , ,but I was totally out of sorts. I puked out a large volume of salt water deep down from my stomach and that helped start my orientation of getting as normalized as possible. I had to relax, ease my legs from tightening up and get control of all my body’s muscles and work with me not against me.  I could feel my sinuses burning but I had to tough it out and not let that pain exist in my thoughts.  I needed to just breathe and look for the best way to ride some kind of change of wave direction towards the rocks.

From experience of months of time in the ocean, I knew that there would be plenty of wave action and that truly might be my saving grace.

The issue was I could see I was getting further away from the cliffs and shoreline. I was more alert though, stripped down and in more control than just minutes earlier and that was the key now.  I could use my body to swim more agilely now to catch a big wave or float which allowed me to conserve valuable energy when necessary. I was ready now more than ever and I wasn’t going to be caught off guard by any waves ever again washing over me. . . Now all I needed was some luck in the ocean flow to take me back towards the cliffs.  

Like I said from experience, I knew there was going to be a shift of the swells heading back towards the rocky ledges so somehow, I needed to conserve my energy. The reality was clear to me, if and when it came, I had to use my leg strength and swimming skills to act like a rudder to take me on the right course, a pattern that would put me where I could try to get washed up, grab onto any jagged ledges, no matter how dangerous it would be and hold tight, wait for the water to get off my back and then escape upward.  

Every cell in my body was working hard and every command my mind was sending out, was to survive. . . Seconds had passed and my wishes for new big swells were riding me up and then big ocean drops taking me down but Mother Nature was giving me a chance. As dangerous as they were, these new rogue waves were the blessing and good luck I needed.  They were over powering the outward ones that had me in their grasp and I suddenly got the directional break I needed and now was heading back on a new giant roller coaster of wave action, smack dead ahead towards the dangerous cliffs. 

I was getting slowly worn down from all that was happening but I’m telling myself to embrace it, , , ,fight it, , , ,and not give up. . . This monster new wave surge was making it harder to keep from accidentally swallowing ocean water again which this time because of being more tired, could have started the drowning process. I was resolute to remain focused and ride this wave up and down, no matter what. I needed to just use my legs wisely and avoid cramping and just continue to keep my breathing calm, in through my nose and out through a little opening of my mouth. I wanted to survive and that was one of the deep mental commands I kept thinking and putting into myself.

Realistically though, panicking under these treacherous circumstances, was almost unavoidable to a degree. . . The good fortune and fact that I kept thinking in my mind for a chance at surviving, was I had been diving daily for months and hours at a time before this incident and taking in and even choking at times from lots of salt water intake, well so now I thought to myself that I could say it was all a training exercise for the real deal in this moment of Mother Nature’s wrath.

As each giant wave moved me closer to my escape, I could see Julio higher up from where we were originally sitting. He was moving side to side all over the mountain top ridge, never taking his eyes off of me and doing some kind of hand gestures, like he was trying to direct me, , , ,and I could tell he was just wishing he could do something, , ,anything to help me. . . 

Many minutes had gone by but I felt like I was out there for much longer.  I was getting closer but still had a ways to go and needed this new wave surge to stay strong and not burn out. I was preparing myself for the crash landing onto the rock faces that these swells were moving me towards but I didn’t care, I welcomed it all.

Each giant up and down wave action was my blessing now and my internal mental strength was guiding me to work my life survival forces. I felt something very natural happening within my mind and body and now I had to continue to just stay strong to finish this.

The thrusting forward ocean covered about one hundred feet and I was now really swimming going to the left side in hopes of getting me in the right direction of where approximately I wanted to crash onto.  I could see I was about nine hundred feet from the rocks and covering positive rapid ocean turf with the giant swells moving me towards the rocky ledges. So I’m guessing that over the next minute and a half I needed to swim and reach as best as possible this waves corner high point and then use this positioning of peaking while riding and getting my body ready to crash and then hold on for dear life as the waters action would try to take me out to sea again.  

Now everything was happening so fast, I’m working to get in position and the next thing I know, I traveled on top of this big wave over a hundred feet in seconds and then crashed onto the rock face. I had my hands in front of me to protect my face and grab any area I could. I could feel the ledges even while being in all the wash I was in but I was just unable to get my arms around anything to grab and hold onto.  

It was a miracle I didn’t get smashed up but what saved me besides my outstretched hands, was the wave was so full with me wrapped in it, that that held me up and acted like a partial cushioning pad, softening the crashing action onto the massive rocks and ledge face.  

It’s all happening so unexpectedly fast and my attempt to escape didn’t work out and then as the back surging ocean power of the swell retreated, I felt the sensation of being picked up like I was absolutely nothing, you could say that rag doll expression, and just like that in the same instant of all this commotion, my body still totally enveloped in the waves back wash grip, I was powerfully sucked in seconds away from the mountain side rocks and taken a hundred feet away, just like that.

As I’m rolling with the flow along the wave top, I thought to myself I was lucky I came out of that without even a scratch.  It’s not like I was taking an inventory of my body but nothing hurt, I wasn’t cut up on my feet and for the most part, I didn’t expend too much adrenaline and be now too wiped out for another try.

I wasn’t over or under confident but I could say my mindset was regroup and continue everything I just planned and then do it on the next try.

Less than a minute had gone by since this crash-landing attempt, that there was a quiet like easy rolling ocean moment of what I remember as good luck that lasted about thirty seconds. This action was really starting to neutralize and stabilize my body and I could use this lull in the action to gather myself.

That was a big break because I was starting to feel like I was running out of gas and my legs were beginning to feel sort of heavy and I felt my energy and strength starting to wane.  

All this favorable ocean action was now encouraging me and giving me a chance to fight on. I knew my body especially my legs and they were in peak condition from all the miles of walking and hours of ocean work, so I kind of gave myself a mental pep talk to stay in the game, no giving up now. NO WAY!  

The quiet was slowly changing and now the wave action became out of rhythm, reversing the outbound direction.  I could see and feel the incoming waves were bigger and stronger and beginning to take me towards the cliffs again. This was all I could ask for and I was thankful for this second chance with this next group of big waves.

Somewhere in all this activity, is where thoughts about God came into my mind and I felt some sort of indescribable presence come over me that I can’t explain.  

The key was to focus on those rocks and figure out how to get my body safely in a position to grab on to any one of them and hold on with my arms and legs if possible and then climb up to safety.

I noticed these new waves were stronger, had more height and were moving faster towards the rocks. They were really taking me for a ride, up and then down and I was purely focused on all that was taking place. I judged that this next crash landing would take me higher up but near an area that had a lot of more jagged rocks below, so this was a mix of good news and bad. Landing higher up would make it easier and quicker for me to climb up and escape but if I didn’t land and hold, well, , , I needed to be prepared and make it happen safely.

My mind was racing more now than the first time and there was nothing I could do about it. It was like all of a sudden, I was in some sort of unique portal of life and death and I had made up my mind inside this window of time that I was going to get out of this ocean death trap alive. 

There was less than thirty seconds left before this present wave I was on, was going to crash. The speed of it was amazing but I was riding atop the right sweet spot of its upper lip curl. There was no let up and I’m totally aware I just have less than ten seconds before my crash and chance of survival would occur.  

My arms are stretch out and all of a sudden, my feet can feel the jagged rocks below.  The sounds all around me were the oceans action crashing onto the rocks.  It was crazy but I didn’t freeze, panic or lose my focus. My eyes would remain wide open no matter what was about to happen. I hit the wall of rocks like nothing I have ever experienced. It was much more intense than the first-time minutes earlier but it also was giving me the opportunity to grab around this very narrow and jagged triangular shape rock. It was a hard and painful landing but my arms were holding on for dear life now and my legs and feet were trying to help me get some sort of grip and balance at the same time and keep from sliding back downward.   

It seemed like forever but I could finally feel and hear the water around me leaving. I felt something almost supernatural in my body’s strength as I just held on with all my natural survival instincts kicking in to the max. Now I could feel and hear a much different ocean sound. The water pressure was completely off my back and my legs and feet felt almost like they were on dry land and ready to get fluid and climb like never before. I’m surrounded in my reflexes like as if I was a human monkey, as crazy as that sounds but I suddenly had the wisdom of what I absolutely had to do right then and there. My feet did not wait for my mind to give them their orders, and my hands were now in tune with my eyes.  Everything in my being was working magnificently. I just don’t know how else to describe what is now happening. There’s fifteen feet above me that I have to climb and I’ve never done this before in even the most warm and sunny days and calm ocean.  

Each movement I made seemed like they were carefully measured and I didn’t look to see what was behind or below me, just kept my eyes and body working and in motion moving upward towards safety. My fate was literally in my own hands and I wasn’t going to fail.   

I felt like there were unseen forces helping me as I made the climb up and none of these thoughts were present, only until after I reached the outstretched helping hands of my friend and partner, Julio.  I saw the look in his eyes of joy and relieve that I was alive and right there now next to him.

In the first minute of reaching safety, Julio gave me his shirt and we sat down so I could collect myself.  It was an amazing feeling to look out to the ocean and see what was going on way down below us. I am thinking I can’t believe I made it out of there, I’m alive and well and no serious injuries to my body other than bleeding feet and a smashed shin bone. Believe me, those pains were the last thoughts in my mind. I mean I was just so grateful to be alive, , ALIVE! 

Somewhere in between my own thoughts about my body’s bruises, is when we started talking about God and how somewhere out there at a few different times I felt this unexplainable vibration and calming