The subtitle of my book, Fading Light, comes from this scene in Chapter 2. The people in my small tour group in the interior jungle of Ecuador are taking a break. The guys are swinging on some vines and have challenged me to do the same.
“You Tarzan, Me…” Before I could get the words ‘Jungle Jane’ out, I started to slip. Where is that knot? I fumbled. Caught myself. Tried to feel for the knot again without letting go. Come on! Why is it so dark here? I missed the knot, and felt my grip slip and me, along with it.
“Owwww… …I’m falling! HELP!” I slid the whole way down.
I hit the ground with a thud.
Antonio raced to my side. “You okay?” He looked anxious.
My hands, skinned and red from rope-burn, one knee, and my behind all throbbed. I felt like crying. But didn’t I come to the jungle for adventure? “Yes, I think I’m okay.”
“Okay?” Antonio felt arms, knees and feet for broken bones. Finally, he smiled in relief. “O-kay!” and gave me two thumbs up.
I grunted, my eyes closed.
“You shoulda seen the way your legs waved around in your red warm-ups. What a spectacle!” Mark joked to lighten the moment.
Grietje scolded the men in the group, “Shame on you! Very silly idea for you guys to dare her to swing on the vine.” She came over and brushed off my arms and hands. “You must be more careful. Let me help you.” She extended her hand and pulled me up.
I let Grietje help me. I stood on one shaky leg. Then, I tried to put more weight on it. It held me.
“Yep, I am going to be okay.” I decided.
Finally, I could stand again without help. Boy was I was going to have a whopper of a body bruise. “Hey, did anyone get a photo of that fall?”
“I did.” Marie swung her camera around. “Make sure you credit me with if it makes it in your book.”
I grinned. I thought that I broke my whole body. “I can live with bruises,” I said to everyone. Just then God redirected my thoughts. “It’s not the adventure I wanted … but it’s the one I got.” Everyone laughed.
Falling from the vine was just one of the many adventures I had on my jungle tour in Ecuador. I looked at it as one of the events that made my travel memorable. Isn’t that the way it really is in life? And it’s even more like that with my vision loss. I don’t know from day-to-day what challenges I will face. But if I can think of it as an adventure, then my attitude is going to be upbeat and positive. I won’t be as frightened to face my fears.
That fall in the jungle really symbolizes my philosophy in coping with my ongoing vision and hearing losses that crop up. In the beginning, it’s a shock, and I just want to stay where I am and cry, or worse yet, throw a temper tantrum. I feel sorry for myself, and grieve for my injuries and or losses. But then God sends people to my aid who make sure I am ok. They help me up. After it’s all over, God teaches me a lesson, restores me with His confidence, or comforts me with a scripture. Suddenly, I can cope again. And I see the humor. I’m ready to move on.
The more I think about the fall from the vine, the more I realize my response is exactly the image that embodies what this book is about. I play with the words a little bit more and I think I’ve come up with something to express what happened in the jungle that day.
My Adventurous Tumble Through Vision Loss with Retinitis Pigmentosa
I have the photograph in hand as I write this blog entry. I don’t know if I am climbing up or falling down, but it doesn’t matter because these days I am always in one phase or the other. I am always learning and growing, whether I am crying or laughing. It would be cool to use this photo in my book but it’s probably too blurry as it was taken in the pre-digital era back in 1986. We’ll see. I’m sure the publisher will have his own ideas.
My title is a working title intended to catch the attention of an editor. I’m told he will probably change it anyway to something he likes better. But for now, I’m quite pleased with my choice.