A few weeks ago we visited Erawan National Park, which features seven great waterfalls. You have the choice to climb up and see all seven waterfalls, or be content with seeing only one.
We had just hiked several feet that day, therefore I was no where near willing to climb up anymore stairs. I, along with two of my leaders, decided to relax at waterfall #3.
It was really beautiful… and creepy because giant bold, flesh-eating fish inhabited the waters. Unfortunately, I found out that they bite the hard way.
I was kind of bummed that all of the students went on to see the other falls because I wanted to take pictures (just being honest), but I soon got over it and began using my Thai to ask others to take my picture. A few kind girls agreed to take my photo and were sweet enough to compliment me on my Thai. It was really cool using a little bit of my language skills, and soon I became more comfortable with talking to the Thai.
I got a few pictures, but not the one I really wanted, the one on the “Lion King” rock. It was in the center of the
pridelands water and I was too afraid to go there by myself because I can’t swim. (Well, I guess I can doggy paddle, but I don’t think that actually counts).
I asked countless individuals to go with me, but no one did. Finally, this man went into the water to reassure me that it only went chest high.
Convinced, I got in and turns out he was right, the water only went to the top of my chest. I continued to walk over to the rock, following the man just in case I had a major episode and needed someone to help me out.
More and more, I inched myself over to the rock, trying to go as fast as I could to forget the fact that giant creatures were swimming about me. Also, if I moved too slowly the little ones would start to nibble. The closer I got to the rock, the higher the water level got. By the time I was three steps away from the rock the water was at my neck, I had to stand on my tippy-toes at that point.
When I finally I reached to the rock, I had a really hard time trying pull myself up. The rock was too slippery. I cramped up and lost footing; it felt like I was slipping under the ledge of the rock. I began to freak out as I felt the floor disappear from underneath my feet.
I tried calling my leaders, but they didn’t hear me. I tried calling the other man, but he couldn’t hear me either.
One guy on the shore just looked at me and gestured that the water was only chest high, but near the rock it was deeper. I felt dumb, scared, and alone. I literally thought I was going to die right there without anyone noticing. I called on my Father so many times, then finally a light bulb came on. Push off the rock. I gave myself one swift push, and as soon as my feet touched the floor I bolted for the shore. When I reached my leaders and told them what happened they just complimented my bravery, but I didn’t need a compliment, I needed a hug.
I didn’t feel brave, I felt alone.
Waterfall #2 was probably even more beautiful than waterfall #3. There was this ledge that you could stand on and be caught underneath the falls. I really wanted to go, but it was too deep. I had flashbacks from what had just happened at waterfall #2.
Once again I used my Thai and two girls brought me close, but not close enough.
I was determined to get under the falls because there was no way I came all the way out there just to chicken out.
Finally, I found as Australian man who was kind enough to help me out. He and his buddy grabbed a bamboo pole and used that to get me across.
I did it! I got my picture! It was the coolest thing to have these complete strangers help me. I can’t explain the joy I felt in making friends with strangers. Having them help me was honestly cooler than being underneath the falls.
In hindsight, I can now see how I was brave: I used my Thai, even though I only knew a little; I asked strangers for help; and I made it underneath a waterfall even though I can’t swim.
Bravery doesn’t mean you’re not scared, we learn this from old nursery rhymes and Disney movies, but it didn’t click until I actually experienced it for myself.
Bravery looks like talking to strangers in a language you’re just learning, jumping into flesh-eating creature infested waters without a life jacket, and being honest enough with yourself to admit you’re afraid and could really use a hug.