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A La Sainte Terrer the "sainte-terrer": cite Henry David Thoreau. The art of walking or "sauntering," seeking holy experience from their feet, the land, and the sky. In other words, a traveler.

A Local Encounter that Changed my Perspective - A Catalyst for Changing Perspectives on Leadership

USA | Friday, 19 April 2013 | Views [87] | Scholarship Entry

The mid-afternoon Californian sun beat harshly above the desert of Joshua Tree National Park. Squinting ahead on the trail about 4 miles in, I could make out the mirage-like image of someone kneeling on the ground, clutching his side, gear strewn about, his glasses lying beside him. I quickened my pace to investigate, but the closer I got, the more I realized I was denying the inevitable: I had a feeling in the pit of my stomach, as soon as I saw the man on the ground, that this wasn't an intentional hiking break.

As a seasoned hiker and outdoor group leader, I had been lucky to never have any major mishaps on my excursions. Despite my wilderness first responder and medical training, I had, deep down, hoped I wouldn't need to use those skills. As someone who has been on the more introverted side for most of her life, I think I secretly hoped that all of my encounters in the wilderness, and in life, would continue to slide by without any wrong turns. That I could continue to be a "leader" (what my training calls me, after all), without having to really prove it-but then things don't always turn out the way we plan.

In a way, this encounter in the middle-of-nowhere desert was my chance to put my money where my mouth is. To cast those self-doubts aside, prove to myself that I wasn't just pretending to be a leader: that I actually was. As I approached the sickly hiker, I could sense that this was a case of severe dehydration. He explained bit by bit, recalling his heavy gear, how he shouldn't have come out alone, this has never happened to him before... these were sentiments I knew all too well. Yet, this instance proved to me that even experienced hikers can find themselves in life-threatening situations.

As someone else's life now depended on my help, I realized I had to break out of the shell I built for myself. I was the only help he had, and I couldn't afford to be anything else. And, almost magically, I became those things I was aspiring to be. My training prepared me to diagnose, reduce injuries and ease a state of mind, but, most importantly, it gave me the self-confidence to handle a difficult situation. It allowed me to be a life-saver, but even more than that, it made me revaluate myself. I wonder if, had it not been for this catalyst of a perspective shift, our outcomes would have been very different, and I thank my lucky stars at the end of every day, whether it was a good or a bad one, that I've gotten to where I am every night.

Tags: Travel Writing Scholarship 2013

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