New Perspectives From Nearly Dying

Heather Markel, Writer, Speaker, Photographer, Traveler, Business Strategist

“A split second – time literally split into two possibilities.
One carrying life, th
e other death.
Your choice matters
And will change you forever.”

Heather Markel, June 2019.


I’ve become obsessed with the Argentinian mate culture. I simply can’t get enough of the herb or the cups and straws, as I mentioned in another post. So, I’ve traveled to the area, and town, where the yerba plant is grown. Like so much other nature of Argentina, this is another plant that only grows in one place and one place only, due to the climate. What I didn’t know, before arriving, is that this town, called Posadas, has no tourism. In about a week, I have not met one other person from any other part of the world, and there are no group tours. Strange and surreal. The impact is that I can only get to the area I want to see if I hire a car and driver, which I do. 

San Ignacio ruins near Posadas – one of the reasons for taking a private tour.

Photograph by Heather Markel. Copyright 2019

My driver was a nice man but liked to drive fast and much too close to the car in front of us. I told him I’m used to about 3 car-lengths between us and the next car, but this did nothing to change his style. He also told me I’m a beautiful woman, at least twice, which made me uncomfortable though, happily, he didn’t try anything. Fresh off my last experience, I was already overly sensitive and uncomfortable having to travel alone with him and trying to keep calm. Happily he did get me in to a yerba plantation I would never have seen otherwise and got a full overview of the yerba-making process.  

“Choices really do matter.”

As we drove back from the plantation, the driver was holding his mate in one hand, and for some reason, looking at me while driving all too fast for my liking. He completely missed the fact that the car in front of us was driving behind a slow truch and making no effort to pass it. Luckily, I noticed that for him and I realized he wasn’t going to slow down. For just a moment I saw, in my mind, the crash into that car in front of us. I saw the dashboard crush around my legs and knew I would either be dead, or else crippled and likely comatose and life changed forever. I didn’t want this to happen so I screamed for him to slow down. He slammed the brakes and only because the cars in front of us were moving did we avoid the crash. Only because I had my seatbelt on did I avoid going through the windshield.

A happier moment of the day – pulling off the road to photograph huge bulls.

Photograph by Heather Markel. Copyright 2019

Thankfully we got back to my hotel safely. I spent the next two days  wondering if I were actually alive or hallucinating the events of my day from my comatose brain in a hospital. I actually noticed things like people responding to me when I talked to them, being able to taste the food I was eating, and being able to feel sensations, and so decided I must be alive. This was one of the strangest experiences I’ve ever had.
After getting over the shock of the situation, I realized some profound things. I am so happy to be alive. Check. I chose to be alive. That realization is huge. I am viscerally aware that in that split second in that car I had a choice between life and death. Not everyone gets that choice. I aggressively chose life. That short moment, and that huge choice, have changed a few things for me. First of all, I am giving less of a fuck what people think of my actions and my choices. Everything that I’ve been working on the past year and a half is coming out of the woodwork and I’m punching it all forward. I have to speak up because, if I don’t, a part of me could, literally, die. So, I’m done keeping quiet. I’ve realized there is so much more I want to do, in life, and have become suddenly motivated to work as much as possible each day to obtain my goals. My goals are even clearer, and I’ve begun to question them less, and move forward more.

Yerba – the plant being grown and gathered to be taken to manufacturers for distribution. Seeing the yerba plantations was the reason I wanted to come to Posadas and take this tour. 

Time is also more relevant and I don’t feel like wasting mine. I feel a wonderful charge of energy and satisfaction that I can arrange my days to get every damn thing I want to do, done. I don’t care if I see every tourist site or not. This is about so much more – this is a giant awareness of my life and spending each moment doing things I want to do and spending my time on people I love, and letting go of those that don’t value my friendship. I also choose to let go of worrying whether what I want to do will work or not. It doesn’t matter – it’s not about the destination, as someone recently told me, it’s about the journey. And I am living mine, passionately, from here on out. All in all, it’s been a hell of a couple of weeks! But I’ve now faced several difficult events and learned, fast, from each one. Good for me.

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