The refreshing breeze slowly evaporated the tiny droplets of sweat that were running down the side of my face, captured by the camera that held a thousand memories. “Hey Samson, do you want me to take another picture?” my energetic friend queried. “No it’s okay, we still have five days left until the trip is over”, I responded in a hurry to catch up to the rest of my team of ten people. Looking back at this picture unlocks many haunting and treasured memories that I’ll always keep with me until the end of time. The person that stands beside me with the red bandana was Josh, the leader of the pack, and the person with the baseball cap on the far right was Tom, the infamous rebel that wants everything his way or the highway. The picture was taken on the shorelines of Lake Superior in mid August of 2002. The story begins at the start of our sixty-kilometer hike. The drizzling rain in the morning, sliding off our bright yellow rain jackets that could be seen from miles away.
The atmosphere of our beloved campsite was filled with an enormous amount of energy that would soon overcome the gloomy surroundings that we would soon depart. Before we left our campsite, Liz, one of our instructors, prompted us to drink gallons of water until our stomach could not take one more droplet. I was too busy chatting with Josh and Tom that I missed the most essential tip that could change my enjoyable, fun and exciting trip to a trip full of excruciating pain of hell which was in the brink of occurrence. The scorching sun came out from under the gloomy clouds, which forced my fatigued team to take a short break. The location that happened to be our break point was the indication of the halfway point to our campsite, which was still damp from the drizzling rain. Finding a first nice spot to sit and relax before my friends was a challenge, but once I found my desired spot, I quickly dashed for it with the last ounce of strength I had. Right at that instant, before I was able to sit down in my anticipated spot, I felt my muscles right above my kneecap contract so severely that it felt as if someone was to burn a piece of plastic under a scorching fire.
Knowing that my team still had enough determination to move a mountain, I quickly stretched my cramp out so that I wouldn’t slow my team down. The cramps jumped to a new level of pain. The pain was much greater than the previous especially after the first kilometer of the short break. I started to walk much more slowly until I met Liz at the end of our team line. Then, I started to feel my knees shaking uncontrollably which was a result of not treating the cramp properly. I knew I was challenging my mental and physical limits. It felt as if the ground was shaking so violently that I would collapse at any moment, but I knew I had pushed myself over and beyond my limits that my body could manage so that I would not slow down my team.
My legs were unable to stand up straight, and I thought my legs would be permanently bent at a sixty-degree angle. My level of pain continued to heighten; the only way I was able to walk was to squat and then take each step at a time. Each step I took felt like a flame torch burning my muscles, which I had to literally punch my leg muscles several times to ease the intense contractions. By this time, Liz knew something was wrong with me, and I used my last ounce of strength to describe to her what I was experiencing. She quickly told the rest of my team to find the nearest. Every step I took, I stabbed my hiking stick into the ground, with as much energy I had left in my worn out body. This kilometer seemed like a hundred kilometers to me. Every few steps I took didn’t seem to shorten the distance to the campsite, but instead I felt I was walking while the scenery stayed unchanged like I was walking in a desert.
I couldn’t take this pain any longer, and was on my last thread of hope. I told Liz that in a few more steps, my legs wouldn’t let me go further. She quickly scouted to see where the team had gone to, and told me that the campsite was a mere two hundred meters. I told myself that I wouldn’t give up so close to the finishing line, and I pushed my body further than I had ever imagined. I kept my eye on the campsite where my friends were waiting to see me. The final steps were not easy. Unfortunately, my legs just gave way and seemed as if they were part of the ground now; I fell straight down without any not conscious of doing so. I started to scream in pain; my vision and my surroundings all of a sudden became blurry. Liz quickly ran towards me trying to save me from this excruciating pain.
She quickly took me to a shady corner and examined my condition in a very troubled way, my condition had gotten a lot worse in the last meter. I saw the muscles just above my knee had started to literally pump and move like a heart beating. Liz frowned, and I instantly knew something had gone terribly wrong within my body. The pain was now indescribable and was uncontrollable; the only way in easing the pain was by punching the muscle to slow down the severe contractions.
My condition grew worse my as body had become numb. All feeling in my body had now been desensitized, and I was going into shock, thinking that this could be the last minute of my short-lived life. I prayed wholeheartedly to the Lord to save my life, and to bring a miracle upon my worn out body. Liz then quickly fed me some drugs and cups of salted water, one after another, in order to combat this phenomenon. Within minutes, I passed out and my body shut down gradually because of the excruciating pain. After a few hours, I regained consciousness but still could not move because of the soreness that my muscles experienced. I thought I was in a dream, but my team members quickly surrounded me and assured me that I was still living. I knew that God had answered my prayer by sparing my life, and I was extremely grateful and emotional that God had saved me so that I would be able to see my friends and family again.
Now I look back at this picture, and I see that hopeful smile, but underneath it, I will always be saying the phrase that gets me through the most difficult parts of life, “Pain is weakness leaving the body.” During my trip with Outwardbound, I’ve learned the most important lesson in life that was the biggest turning point of my life. I have learned that determination can get you through anything as long as you don’t give up on it and you set your mind to achieve that goal. This trip also allowed me to appreciate the simple things in life, and not to take them for granted; because you never know what will happen to you in ten minutes, or ten years. By going through such pain during the summer, it has really strengthened me and allowed me to grow mentally and physically. Without going through rough times, I would have never blossomed into the person I am now, and would have never been able to appreciate the things in my life as I do now. Those six words that compose my phrase always encourage me during the tough times, because without pain, you will never be able to strengthen yourself as a person.