A Lesson regarding Mortality
Yurts at Poncha Pass - Colorado Yurt Rentals and Sustainable Building Workshops - Photo of Chris in ground of Earthship

Written by Chris

April 30, 2012

The day fades into a haze of false stillness as the sun sets over the New Mexican mesas surrounding Las Vegas, NM. The dry air hangs with dust, fractals of light shattering as they hit grains of sand. The last beams of the day break into oranges, yellows and reds. Although I stand and witness this peaceful serenity blanketing the bone dry earth of infinite browns, I am braced for a tone; a piercing noise inevitable as the setting sun.

Working for an ambulance service in this remote setting that provides emergency medical response for roughly 30,000 people over 5,000 square miles, we have three units working in rotation. I enjoy the 48 hr. shifts. To come to work and get more than a week’s worth accomplished in two days is a satisfying feeling. But when I arrive at work, I commit to an ever fluid future, an unknown certainty. Some shifts are calm, as peaceful and uneventful as the landscape. Other shifts come alive with the fury of the tempests, as sudden tragedies stack upon one another as if working towards the completion of a truly broken mirror.

The tone drops and strikes instinct, driven through repetition as it finds my reptilian brain. I feel my mind flip from a calm rhythmic observation of a sunset, into a sudden tachycardia state of awareness and urgency. Jumping into the ambulance, I find myself suddenly racing through calm streets leaving a jarring wake as we spear the night with our twinkling lights and defining cry.

The emergency is real tonight as we race to help this person in need, working to treat the symptoms of a heart attack. After administering initial care, I leave the patient with my partner and jump into the driver seat to race back to the hospital. Upon arrival, I rush to help unload the patient. We move towards the sliding doors. We made it, he has a chance; we helped this man.

And then I look up and into the patient’s eyes as the hospital doors open and watch as he leaves this world behind. It is a sudden and shocking moment. I spare further details for they are not mine to share out of respect for the deceased and living. What I do know is that we did all we could for this person and so did the hospital after our arrival.

An hour later and I am staring out from the open ambulance bay, facing towards the open vistas as the last of a violet ribbon dances across the horizon. This experience is visceral and as I work to fight death repeatedly and daily, I fall in love with all that is alive more deeply. What to take out of this experience or make of this brief window into this dance with death?

Our eventuality and mortality are one in the same as well as the treasure we find with each rising sun. Burn bright and strong and enjoy it all. For inevitable as a setting sun, our lives dance like flames on candle sticks.

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