This Is Why You Can’t Wait

July 14, 2021

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I clearly recall a few thoughts from when I was caught under the swirling rapids of the Zambezi River. Perhaps (in retrospect) the most funny? 

“My parents are not going to be happy to have to go pick up my body in Zimbabwe.” 

It was 2006 and my younger self was whitewater rafting a category V river when my raft and its passengers suddenly got tossed like a rag doll. My body bounced off the rocks of the gorge before being pulled under. 

Spun around and pinned under the powerful currents, I didn’t know which way was up, so there was no point in swimming, even as I ran out of oxygen. 

Obviously, since I’m writing this to you today, I survived.

I was bruised and bloody and pretty darn traumatized, and I didn’t speak about the experience for months after I returned to the United States. 

Locals believe that the river is controlled by a god / river monster called Nyami Nyami. He is some combination of snake, fish, and dragon, and he is quick to anger. That’s a drawing of him above. 

Nyami Nyami changed my life. I had never before thought about my mortality. I just assumed I’d live to 100. 

Nyami Nyami almost got me. But I am not afraid of him, and that day under the rapids I learned that I am not afraid of dying. 

But I am deathly afraid of not having lived. 

Me, my heart horse Aria, and Nyami Nyami forever on my wrist. Photos of us by Kirstie Marie.

I never considered myself the tattoo type, but I wanted to be reminded of that lesson every single day. So I had Nyami Nyami tattooed on the inside of my wrist. 

It’s not a fashion statement, and it’s not for anyone but myself. 

It’s my daily reminder that “life could be short.” 

Life could be short. 

Eat off the good china. 

Wear your fancy clothes. 

Buy the horse. 

(After you buy the horse, then get incredible photos.) 

Life could be short. 

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