In 1988, I was evacuated from Ushuaia, Chile, to Houston, Texas, after suffering a head injury when crashing in the surf off the coast of Argentina in the south Atlantic. Following a neurological examination and head x-rays, the doctor said "Quit the trip." The following excerpt is copied from my paddling narrative from the Arctic Ocean to Cape Horn (1986-1989). I was faced with a decision. Would I return to the expedition route or stop?
.,....The Cape Horn vision had been etched into me for the past 20,000 miles.
My parents were worried about loosing me. The pain of my indecision was not the fear of dying. Before the expedition started, I had come to terms with the possibility of not making it back alive. Even in the familiar home of my parents, so much of life as I knew it was already gone. The expedition was the practice of dying and becoming reborn. Paddling from the Arctic ocean to Cape Horn was intense engagement in the struggle which consisted of "Hit the wall, then push body and emotions past the wall." My canoe remained constant while I felt like a battering ram, too stunned to grasp the promise of a broken seed overcome by growth.
My attitude was a big factor in my decision. Call it stubborn but I could not give up. I have heard people say death is a letting go of life but I don't believe them. Perhaps there is comfort in sitting by the bedside of a loved one and saying, "You can go now." But I want my advocates to cheer me to the finish. I want to meet death by not giving up or letting go. Without knowing all the answers, I want to keep hanging on and giving all until the passage is granted. I want to welcome death rather than submit to it.