How One Tomato Saved My Life

tomatoI knew I was dying. It had been five days since I had eaten, and in that time, I’d only been able to barely keep the tiniest licks of water down. Fasting wasn’t a problem. No water, however, was.

It was mid-August, 1984. A week before, as one of the greeting representatives for the Kauai yachting association that held a trans-pacific race every two years, I welcomed a father and son team who came in second in the double-handed (only two people on the boat) race.

I helped them unboard, carry their gear, trash, dirty laundry and empty supply containers up to the docking station where everyone was busily meeting, greeting and celebrating. They still had wobbly sealegs after two weeks on the water, so we went slowly. As soon as they were set, I went on down to the next boat that was just now pulling into the marina.

On the muggy tropical awards night a couple days later, by chance I was placed next to Tony, the father of the crew I had welcomed. He said he was looking for a crew to sail his boat back to California with him as his son had flown back to the mainland already.

Before I could stop my mouth, I said, “I’ll go!”

Huh? I had a great sales job in a gallery 6 days a week, and my kids were about to come back from visiting their dad to get ready for school–hello? My inner critic screamed, “how can you even think about going?”

“I’ll go!” I said again.

Even though I knew I was nuts to go, I over-rode my inner critic. She was always trying to put a damper on everything! I decided right then and there that this was a trip of a lifetime and I wasn’t about to pass it up.

So, since the sail would take 25 or more days, I got a month lay-off from my boss, handled the logistics for my kids and house. Two days later, Tony and I set off.

I was excited and terrified. I was a good sailor–I’d been sailing since before I was born, and was utterly comfortable on boats, on the water and in it. But I’d never sailed across an ocean!

I’d never experienced a minute of seasickness. But the second we left Nawiliwili Harbor, I almost passed out when extreme nausea took over my entire world.

Tony suggested I go below decks and rest a bit, but I wanted to see the ocean and the way the sun climbed the sky over my rapidly shrinking island home. I was OK if I stood up, but if I sat down, I was a mess. If only I’d had tapping!

Eventually I did lie down, because over the next three days the nausea got worse and worse. I could stand up, I could lie down, but sitting made my world a dizzy hell. I got tired really fast and couldn’t hold a thing down. On that first day, I lost every last fragment of anything in my belly in the most unpleasant ways.

By the morning of the fifth day, I knew that I’d die of hypothermia if something didn’t change. I was lying in my bunk, fully dressed, with my down jacket on inside my down sleeping bag. One minute I felt as if I was submerged in Arctic ice, the next in the fires of hell.

I kept wondering, why me? What have I ever done to deserve this? How did an experienced sailor get seasick all of a sudden? How my brothers would tease me if they ever found out! Anger, guilt, sadness, shame and grief swirled through my water-deprived and nutritionally unbalanced brain.

Tony came below and said something that made no sense to me, and left shaking his head. I realized I must be delirious. I suddenly had a feeling that if I died out there in the middle of the ocean, now five days out from Kauai, he wouldn’t turn around and return my body to shore.

It was at that moment that I really got it that I had to make a sharply defined decision. It was no longer about how stupid I was for going off lickety-split with a perfect stranger, no matter how good his credentials were. It was no longer about why I was seasick, or about whether I could make it through, what people might think or even what Tony might do.

It was all about WOULD I make it through? Would I make the decision, then and there, to do what it took, no matter what?

I decided that a tomato would be my savior. I had done a lot of multiple-day fasting in my 20s, and each time I had had stewed tomatoes to break the fast.

We didn’t have any stewed tomatoes, so I pulled out the ripest tomato in our meager fresh veggie stores. It looked like life itself, embodied. It was plump and red, and smelled really wonderful–but just one little thought of eating it, and my poor wrecked stomach flipped over several times.

I closed my eyes and said to my deepst self, “You’re going to do this, and you’re going to live, so shut up about nausea. Thank you.” And bit a tiny little hole in the skin.

Over the next couple of hours as I slowly sucked on that tomato, I had to fight for each little drop of juice to stay down. At the end of three hours I could take a bite.

Finally, when I had eaten the whole thing, I knew–I KNEW–I’d be OK. I feel alseep and woke up in time to relieve Tony for the midnight watch. From then on, I didn’t experience even a fraction of nausea or dizziness, and even took over the cooking.

In quantum physics, it is said that multiple realities exist simultaneously. I know you’ve heard that before. But until I was thinking lately about my experience sailing across to California so long ago, I couldn’t quite get what they meant when they talked about how the universe collapses into a reality. Why use the word “collapse”?

I had a sudden vision of the scenes in the movie “What the Bleep,” where all those bubbles of realities were floating around, each one with a choice of reality in it. I saw that once I made my choice to live, to keep that tomato at my mouth, to refuse to let my body vomit each succeeding drop of juice, all the other bubbles of reality had collapsed into the one I had chosen to experience.

It was a real leap of faith to choose to live–especially since, over the next 22 days spent tacking across the wide Pacific, we didn’t see one other human being or boat anywhere–not even a single contrail above us.

We got becalmed in the Doldrums. The engine broke down when we tried to motor out of them; and when a storm blew out our mainsail, I almost fell overboard retrieving it. By the time we got to California, we were virtually on our last cup of water. I could have died in multiple other ways, but I was appalled to think I might die of nausea and hypothermia!

What saved me? First, I’m a survivor. I want to LIVE.

Secondly, and right on top of that, my sharply defined decision. How I felt was this: not only do I want to live, I want to do it NOW, no holds barred, get out of my way, I will do what I know is best for me, I will do what it takes.

My question to you, at a time when the world seems like it has fallen apart, is this: What sharply defined decision are you going to make right now that will allow you to not just stay alive, but thrive, to your soul’s deepst satisfaction and fulfillment?

We all know how to survive. We’ve been doing it on one level or the other for our entire lives.

Every moment is a choice moment–are you going to do same-old, same-old?

Or are you going to allow yourself to radiate your humor, brilliance, intelligence, beauty, uniqueness and vitality, full-tilt and non-stop?

It ain’t about goals. It’s about how you feel.

Yes, you can work on your goals, and the list of to-dos you want to complete–but–that will be there even if you never think of it again.

What is of vital importance is how you feel. Because how you feel is how you vibrate, and how you vibrate is how you create your life!

This is my feel-list:
I am calm
I am relaxed
I am inspired
I am inspiring
I am delighted
I feel like am doing my life Right
I am grateful and fulfilled.

Maybe if I had felt like that on that fifth day out of Kauai, I might have been happy enough just to let go and die. But I doubt it! Too much fun to be had!

What’s your list?

How do you want to feel about yourself, what you do, who you play and work with, your family, your body, your work, your finances, your fun?

How do you want to feel at the end of the day as you fall asleep?

Those are the only important choices.

Because when you go for those choices to the preference over other, less-fulfilling ones, people who feel the same way will align with you and sing the same song, paint the same picture, create the same feeling along with you. And it will all expand and grow and become resplendant.

This is the power of alignment in the attraction game. But you have to BE attractive before you can attract. And you can’t be attractive until you feel good!

Make a list now of a few feelings you’d like to feel. Right now.

Then do one small thing that will help you feel that way.

Then do more–and more and more and more.

I dare you to live your magnificent brilliance! Live it as much as you can every single moment–even when that means being silent and in the background, or resting, or simply receiving–it’s not always about being out there and assertive.

And remember–the rest of us love it when you live your life feeling great! It gives us hope, inspiration, and real, live permission to do the same, ourselves.

Thank you for being part of my life. My best, deepest and warmest blessings for a fabulous, unhindered, open and completely delightful life!

Aloha
Angela Treat Lyon

p.s. I still love tomatoes!

Comments are open!

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© Angela Treat Lyon 2007-9, All rights reserved. You have permission to use this article as long as you use it unedited in its entirety, including this contact information.

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Angela, every time I read one of your stories, I feel compelled to write you. You are so right-on. Your essence glows. This level of wisdom only comes from living life and applying principles, not just thinking about them. Thank you for putting yourself out into the world so more of us can open to our full potential. You are a kindred spirit and you inspire me!