In 1991, my friend Sue and I traveled to the South Pacific. We spent two weeks in the Cook Islands. If you know anything about the Cook Islands you may know that there is one wave-break around the whole beautiful island, which means you are ankle-to-knee deep in water for about 500 feet out from the shore. There is also a large drop off where the wave breaks.

Cook islands

On the second morning of our trip, I looked out at the sea, and thought, “This looks awfully fantastic for body surfing.” I headed out and made my way towards the waves. I was a relatively fit individual and I had previous experience body surfing in Hawaii and Mexico. I had this. I dove into the first wave. It picked me up and tossed me into the shallows.

Another wonderful thing about the Cook Islands is the coral – brilliant, prolific colors. My back was the first thing to come in contact with the coral’s vibrant, razor-sharp spikes. As the waves pushed me towards the sea, the rest of my body was amply exposed to the coral’s sharp edges. After the third beating, I still was not able to come up for air. I actually started to see slow-motion snapshots of my life pass from my left, foggy field of vision, to the right. Two more hits. I started to pass out when I felt something pulling at me. It was like being yanked out of quicksand. The undertow and “The Something” were in a tug-of-war and thankfully, “The Something” was winning. Each time “The Something” got a grip, and I thought I was rescued, the hammer would hit and the latest wave would gain a foot of ground.

Cook Islands Coral_20090428152819

I finally surfaced, partially threw up, and wiped my eyes. “The Something” was blurry. “Lady, you okay? Lady!! You okay??” “The Something” was about 8. He had lovely dark Cook-Islander skin and a grin that reached from earlobe to earlobe. Once I acknowledged that I was indeed alive, he flashed a smile that could have provided light to the whole island. This little boy turned and ran towards the waves that he just rescued me from. He picked up the floating piece of plywood next to him – his surfboard.

“The Something” had just opted to miss an awesome wave to pull a husky, foolish Canadian woman out from the water. I was cut from head-to-toe and the coral rash I had for the next week reminded me to judge risky environments more thoroughly. I learned to never underestimate who may be available the next time I need saving.

I have often thought of that eight year old. Had he not been there, had he been looking the other direction, had he not been determined enough to succeed in my rescue and had he not possessed the wherewithal to know the importance of the endeavor, I may have died.

Emergent situations have a way of narrowing our vision to that of utmost importance. Heroes are born in these moments. This small boy had a singular focus towards saving me. The wave, and his piece of plywood, could wait.

Would I have even considered him when passing him in public?  Probably not. But now, I will never forget him.

Who in your life has provided a surprising rescue?

Share below a situation you have been in that resulted in a complete stranger coming to your aid or you coming to the aid of another!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

About Dr. Denniston

Dr. Denniston is a wellness strategist for elite leaders and their teams, bridging the connection between personal well-being and professional success. She provides custom solutions for burnout and stress and facilitates cohesive habit-training strategies that maximize vitality, productivity, and resilience.

Want to look and feel your healthiest?

THE THREE DAY RESET is a whole food, organic eating plan geared to charge your metabolism, give you tons of energy, and provide all the nutrients and vitamins you need.

Ready to work together?

WELLFITandFED’s primary programming includes programs, keynotes, workshops, events and customized consulting. The foundations of these offerings are rooted in 25 years of experience working with companies from small start-ups to global giants like Microsoft.

Popular topics.

Like that? You'll love these.

"BRAVING"- The Anatomy Of Trust In The Wilderness

“BRAVING”- The Anatomy Of Trust In The Wilderness

In her book “Braving The Wilderness,” Brene Brown uses the word “BRAVING” as an acronym for defining and developing trust-filled relationships with everyone from kids to coworkers. Now, who doesn’t have trust issues and who doesn’t love a good acronym? ...
Read More →

Conquering Your Inner Bully

During the height of my grief, after my mother died, I met a woman with whom I became inseparable. We went everywhere together; finished each other’s sentences, and were joined at the hip. I was rarely without her. We were ...
Read More →
Want Inspiration? Head To The Bottom Of The Pool

Want Inspiration? Head To The Bottom Of The Pool.

It is a hot summer day in August. You are at the local public pool with your kids. It is noon. You are positioned in the middle, treading water.
Read More →
What if grown-up recess was mandatory?

What If Grown-Up Recess Was Mandatory?

Yesterday, my personal “Grumpo-Meter” measured at a ten. I woke up not having slept well, and I was in a funk. I felt all “hormoney” and ready to masticate the head off anyone who got in my way. My dad ...
Read More →

Brene Brown Is In My Brain Trust

Brene Brown is in my brain trust but let’s go back. I have a panel of advisors that get me through the day. Folks I can count on to advise and gently turn my shoulders when directional assistance is needed. ...
Read More →
Goal Progress - You Have To Squat Before You Leap - WELLFITandFED

Goal Progress – You Have To Squat Before You Leap

Stand. Just, stand. Now, jump. You can’t can you? To jump you must bend your knees, and in bending your knees, you are dipping down lower than your starting position. The only way to jump up in the air, or ...
Read More →