What would you do if you were stuck with just your mind for 25,200 seconds? What thoughts would you choose? What ideas would you have? What emotions would run the show?
25,200 seconds is another way of saying 7 hours.
I was given this challenge in a form I never ever saw coming.
A challenge that could have taken my life.
I woke early on February 1, 2017 as I was preparing for a big day – sitting at the kitchen counter I was catching up on emails and prepping for my day.
I was on the phone with my mom, “I’ll shoot you this email and then I’m going to go out to feed, I’ll be back in about 15 minutes to go over these notes.”
I hung up.
I looked at the temperature. It was 7 degrees.
I had sweats on and long-sleeved shirt, no socks – meh, who needs socks it will only by 15 minutes to go feed the animals.
I put my carharts on, hat and gloves and went out to back with the dogs. I fed all critters, let chickens out, fed the goats, and then decided to throw more hay to the horses as it was cold.
Now We stack our hay 6 tons at a time and it rows 10 feet high.
We were getting down to the last layer of it.
We tarp the hay and had it canopied over it and then bungeed to the ground to form a lean-to of such so we can walk around it and park the wheelbarrow under it.
In the past 72 hours we had about 12 inches of new snow.
So the tarp was heavy with snow.
I was standing underneath the canopy of tarp, in front of the 10 foot wall of hay, opening a new bale. I heard snow sliding and as I looked up the wall of hay toppled down on top of me wrapping me in the tarp, snow, and pile of hay bales.
Each bale of hay is 65-75 lbs – there were probably close to 30 that fell on top and around me.
I tried desperately to move. I was pinned, trapped in hay. Snow. And wrapped in tarp.
I did not have my phone.
I did not have my knife.
It was 8 am. I was supposed to meet Justin at 1:30 for a meeting.
This is not happening, I thought. This is not happening. This cannot be happening.
And then in one small breath I said out loud, this IS happening. My dear God. Please not today. Don’t take me today.
This really is happening.
I landed on my right side with my right ear pressed up against my right shoulder and my arm out stretched. I could move nothing except my left hand and my right foot. I can’t breathe, I thought. I can’t breath, there is no air. All I could feel was tarp. There was no air.
If I only had a knife.
If I only had air.
If only I had put socks on.
Think Tanda. Think.
I grabbed a chunk of tarp with my left hand and shimmied it up to my mouth. I gnawed a small hole in the tarp to where I could stick my finger through and I then dug small holes in the snow beneath me to create air pockets.
If I only had a knife.
As long as I have air, I kept thinking, I can stay here for a while.
I just need air.
Each breath felt thick. Heavy and suffocating.
Its 8:00 am, I thought. No one is expecting me to be anywhere til 1:30 pm.
I kept counting those hours. That’s 5.5 hours from now. Right? Yes. 5.5 hours from now.
As long as I have air.
My body went into shock, convulsing to try and stay warm. In and out of shivering and shock I tried to breathe as shallowly as possible.
I did not show up to the meeting at 1:30.
Justin came home and dug me out at 3 pm.
7 hours later.
25,200 seconds later.
It was 10 degrees outside.
Many have asked me – how did I choose to spend all of those seconds?
Well, I watched.
I watched my thoughts.
I watched it wonder to being faced with death. To the ones I was leaving behind. To the reality of what was happening.
I watched my thoughts drift. Drift from death to life. From trust to disbelief. From fear to gratitude.
I walked myself into heart palpitations all the way to total calm.
The circumstances did not change. It was only me and my thoughts that could.
And for all 25,200 seconds I got to choose.
And as each second ticked by – not knowing the outcome – I consciously chose to think calm. Think air. Think circulation. Think shiver. Think gratitude for the extraordinary life that we have created.
And when Justin found me 7 hours later under the hundreds of pounds on hay and snow, those seconds didn’t just stop and life took back over.
I STILL have 100% control over what I am thinking and how it is affecting my life positively or negatively.
And so do you.
So I invite you to start with paying attention to your thoughts for ONE of the seconds of the thousands we have a day.
We can transform our life with our thoughts. And it starts with noticing. Noticing what we are choosing to think about every day. What we gravitate towards and then ask yourself if that is serving you. Ask yourself if you were to KEEP thinking those things would you love your life even more …or not.
I could have thought myself into a panic attack. I could have thought myself into claustrophobia. I could have thought myself into hypothermia. I could have thought myself into a lot of things.
And with a lot of prayer, luck and a lot of trust, I thought my way into walking out of that situation totally unscathed.
What are you thinking yourself into?
Pay attention – try it for 25,200 seconds.