that one time. when we almost…

If you read my last post, talking points, this is the post you’ve been waiting for. The burning question you’ve had since last Saturday will now find resolution. Welcome to the danger zone. Dun dun dunnnnnnnnn. (Pardon my rusty screenplay writing…this’ll just have to do)

Scene 1 – INTERIOR: Dark studio
FADE UP: Head to Toe – Joy on a stool
JOY: Freshman year of college at Oral Roberts University was a really fun one for me – with the exception of one moment.

(LIGHTS dim dramatically – there’s now just one spotlight above me at a 75º angle, CAMERA dramatically zooms in. Joy looks up and delivers this line:)

JOY: That one time I almost died.

(MUSIC: :05 dramatic string-driven orchestral stinger begins and ends. Transition to Light and happy MUSIC, add in bird sound effects)

Scene 2 – EXTERIOR: Fall in Oklahoma, students paddling in canoes down a river.
FADE UP: Wide shot of students paddling by.

JOY: It was a beautiful day in Oklahoma. The ORU Honors program retreat was in full swing. I was in the rear of a canoe that held two of my good friends. Amanda was at the helm, and Colleen was holding down the middle seat and the role of all powerful entertainer.

INTERIOR: Dark studio
CUT TO: Medium Close-Up – Joy on stool.

JOY: Mind you. Amanda and I were decently experienced in canoes at this point. Colleen was purely along for the ride, and we were ever so grateful for her contribution.
The rest of our group had varying levels of experience – from lifeguards who were almost pro, to groups of stereotypically brilliant but not always coordinated folk who were working to stay afloat.
That being said:

CUT TO: Wide shot,
EXTERIOR: Fall in Oklahoma, students paddling in canoes down a river.
JOY: We were having quite the jolly time. Colleen was leading us through songs with her glossy gospel-toned voice while Amanda and I threw in harmonies. It was glorious. Until that one moment.

Okay okay…this screenplay thing isn’t working. I’ma just tell the story.

So here we were. Canoeing. Minding our own business. The river was abnormally high due to heavy rains that season. We were approaching a bend in the river. Suddenly we heard panic around the bend. As we rounded the bend ourselves, we saw it. The. Giant. Log. It was thiiiiiiiiiiiis big around (probably 4-5’ in diameter), and it covered about ¾ of the river width – which was about 30’ where it had fallen. A canoe of some of the lesser experienced folk had rammed into the log and capsized. They were holding onto the log for dear life while the strong current was threatening to pull them under.

We had a decision to make. We pow-wow’d real quick and determined that we should dock against the log, help our fallen friends, and ultimately lift our canoe over. We made it over to the log. As we attempted to dock, we too got caught in the current flowing under the log, but we managed to get out of the canoe. Our compadre’s canoe was half submerged, bottom side up and was stuck under the log. I tried to pull it out, but instead got pulled in.  So there I was. Going from rescuer to victim in quicker than I could realize. By this time, our lifeguard friends had successfully docked and were helping direct traffic that was now building up on the log, grasping onto the closest concrete object. Next thing I know, the current took the now dis-lodged canoe under the log. I lost my grip and grasped to regain it. The lifeguard on the top of the log told me to let go.


This is now one of those ironic “you must let go….” ethereal moments.
…and i’m not wearing a life jacket…


So. I make the decision to let go. I am swept under the log. Not only was the letting go directive an ethereal moment, but suddenly I found myself in an even weirder moment. I’m fully submerged in the river, looking up at the water above me and the sky. I had the tangible thought, “Oh. So this is what it feels like to drown…” But yet I was at peace. Next thing I know, I’m up, taking in air. I see a small exposed piece of land in front of me, but still in the middle of the river. On top of this piece of land, was a wishbone shaped log – with the two prongs facing upriver. Suddenly, I found myself being the point person on the other side of the log and chaos upstream. Boats and people came my way. I docked boats and helped my friends find footing. The only casualty in this ordeal: One paddle.

Apparently…I’m known for being dramatic in storytelling. So when I verbalized this adventure to the professors downstream and we talked about the missing paddle, the paddle was of more concern than our ordeal. But this actually happened. And we all survived. And in retrospect, it was rather dramatic. But we made it!

From that day on, every time I saw my friend Gretchen, one of us would begin conversations with, “Remember that one time?” The other would answer, “When we almost died?” We’d then hug and carry on like normal.

  1. Wayne A. Bork June 21, 2017 at 3:34 pm

    Thanks again for the story! Love your creativity and writing. Love you Joy! Dad


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