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Unbroken – A Letter To A Friend Before Goruck Selection

*To S.S. You will not break.

Ice storm.

This is not the white, fluffy Winter Wonderland with soft curves and pillowy hilltops. There is nothing soft about this ice inferno. The landscape is sharp. The lines are angry. Fragile blades of grass are imprisoned in two inches of ice. Unable to breathe, they are sentenced to suffocation in beautiful ice chambers.

Think of a snowflake – a moment frozen in time. Today the whole universe is frozen solid, and life is standing still. Each tree is encased in ice armour. In front of you, a form of life, a living organism is cryogenically preserved, if only for a few days.

The ice. The cold. The weight.

What will you do under the weight?

Giles Corey, who was accused of witchcraft in late 17th century during the Salem Witch Trials, asked for more. He refused to plead guilty, and was subjected to pressing – heavy stones were placed on his stomach and chest. Each time he was asked to plead guilty, he replied “More weight”. He died after two days.

What will you do under pressure? When the weight of ice, of fear, of failure pushes you down?

Diana Nyad was pulled out of the water in August 2012. Again. After being badly stung by the jellyfish, and almost dying, she was forced to abandon her fourth attempt to swim from Cuba to Florida – the 103-mile (166 km) swim, that no one has even been able to complete, despite multiple attempts. Nyad was 63.

Some will bend. Trying to survive, they will bow into the most unlikely curves – a rainbow of pain, a horseshoe of suffering. They will invoke every ounce of flexibility nature gave them – the very same nature that is now testing their limits.

Some will break. Cleanly. Neatly. Quietly. Some will put up a fight, breaking violently, taking the nearby bushes with them, peeling their own skin off. Preferring to lose a limb to bending under pressure. Tree branches strewn on the ground, like arms blown off in a battle.

Some trees are split right down the middle. The heart of the tree, its very essence, is gaping helplessly, bright red, as if bleeding. With its mouth wide open, the split tree is straining to swallow this new cruel reality.

And some will do none of the above. A rare tree out there will simply refuse to break. It will not break. It cannot break. Breaking is not in its nature.

It will continue to stand, as tall as the pounds of ice will allow, its branches pregnant with frozen water, until it cannot stand any more.

Eventually the earth itself, no longer able to stand the tension, will give in. The tree will falter, pulling onto its own roots desperately, as if pulling its own hair out. Finally, it will charge down, pushing against the wet earth with rough and sloppy lust.

Moments later, the tree is on the ground – fully uprooted, heaving with effort, but.. still unbroken. Its core intact.

In August 2013, Diana Nyad stumbled out of the water after swimming for almost 54 hours. Her mantra – through training, and then through the gruelling hours of salty water, was “Find a way”. She did not break.

When pounds of ice are weighing you down, you may be uprooted. You may be displaced. You may be on the ground.

But will you find a way to remain whole?

Will you find a way to keep your core intact?


Finding my way, SOLO


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