Last Sunday my spouse and I were walking together on a trail in Wisconsin when she tripped and fell. Being experienced hikers and walkers who enjoy exploring even into remote areas including backpack trails, mountain hiking and the like, of course we know that we should carry a First-Aid kit. Or at least a Band-Aid.
We had Kleenex, one of those little pocket tissue packs. When she fell she caught herself with her hands on bare rock, came down on her knees, stood up and dusted herself off and saw blood beginning to ooze. Her left hand had a nasty bit of a gash just at the base of the thumb. She sat down and collected herself, got out a tissue to cover the cut, put some pressure on it to slow the bleeding, and elevated her hand so it was higher than her heart. She didn’t really have the wind knocked out of her, but the reality of our situation started sinking in: we had a couple miles to go even to get back to our lunch stop (enjoyable burger and salad place) and no way to get off of the trail except by walking on. She asked me if I had anything with me. Like a Band-Aid? Or some Neosporin? A first-aid kit with gauze bandages and adhesive tape? Some of those little butterfly things that close a cut? ANYTHING? I had a mini-size pocket knife multitool. And a plastic cup of cold water. Oh, and she had a plastic restaurant take-out filled with leftover salad and half of a cheeseburger.
This trail– the one we like best & walk as often as we can– goes around a lake. It’s known as “the shore path,” because you are almost always in sight of the water. People like it because it is scenic and lovely and not too difficult. You hardly ever worry about a crash landing. That day we had seen a few other hikers out, but strangely it seemed Moms With Nursing Infants in Chest Carrier Day. So we were on our own. I began looking around on the ground for anything that might help us, like a piece of tape. Or string. A clean water bottle. Anything to boost the spirits would come in handy.
I saw a plastic Ziplock back on the trail maybe 8 feet from where she was seated, picked it up, and inside was a brand-new clean roll of sticky material and a sheet of instructions. It was somebody’s kit for sail repair, conveniently dropped right where we needed it. For no apparent reason but that she had a cut that needed bandaging.
We used the sticky sail stuff to create a makeshift bandage out of the Kleenex. I even cut it with the multitool knife! Sipped some water, gathered our belongings and she stood up holding her left hand in her right and keeping the hand elevated. She was able to walk the next mile & then we stopped at a summer camp place that had an open building with chairs and a bathroom accessible, so she could sit and wait. There was even a lady at the desk who offered help and real first-aid equipment. My spouse declined, because the sail repair stuff had been doing a great job of holding her thumb from falling off. So I went on, got the car, drove back and picked her up.
Then we went home and made some tea. She washed off her hand and really looked at it. We went to the Emergency Room. She got stitches. And purple elastic stuff wrapped around to keep the pressure on. It worked almost as well as sail-repair.
Here is the question: how does life DO that? Figure out what you need to move ahead and then drop it into your lap at the exact moment, and then act like nothing happened?