In a Wilderness First Responder course, a handful of topics are introduced with: “Hopefully you’ll never have to do this, but in a worst case scenario…” What Sumner and I did next was one of those cases. Paul had a possible spinal injury, which meant that he needed to remain immobile. If we moved him, we could damage his spinal cord, potentially paralyzing him for the rest of his life. But if he stayed in the creek any longer, he could die of hypothermia.
“Has anyone applied to be co-chair next year?” asks the head of outreach, glancing from one co-chair to the other.
The application went out a few weeks ago. Unlike last year, there have been no murmurs about who is going to apply. No one can put a finger on a stand-out leader in the club. One of the current co-chairs is a junior. He’s tired and quiet.
“Alan’s brain got run over by a speedboat,” Cathy Crimmons’ book, “Where is the Mango Princess?” begins. It’s the story I know all too well: the loved one is going about her day, eating her food, caring for her children, when smack! her brain and her life are run over by a goddamn speedboat.
Four and a half billion years ago, a camera began recording. It captured images of faces, footprints, fingernails. It saw the first proteins strung out piece-by-piece; it saw microscopic, single-celled masses absorbed by their neighboring blobs of life; it saw families trekking across grasslands in search of food. This camera ran for billions of years, from angles all over the planet, capturing the sky, the trees, predators, prey, insects and bacteria. And after each frame, the film was discarded on the ground, where it would be covered in mud, land and vegetation, maybe for the rest of time.