PINE NUTS: Surviving getting flushed down a storm drain |

PINE NUTS: Surviving getting flushed down a storm drain

I’ve never had to worry about illnesses, because I’ve always known how I was going to die. I would step into an open manhole while out running and get swept out to sea, however that’s not likely to happen because I’m no longer running.

But it did happen to a Brazilian girl last week, and she lived to tell about it.

Her name is Nathalia, and it all started with a flash flood in New Jersey. Nathalia had to dive from her car as it was lifted off the roadbed and instantly turned into a submarine. Nathalia was unceremoniously flushed down a mile-long storm drain, where she gasped small pockets of air while being swept along, all the while imagining an ignoble end to her young life. Thoroughly disheartened she gave up on life and resigned herself to die. Her dying thoughts went to her boyfriend back in Brazil, and she was crying out to her mother when she saw a light.

“I hope it’s not God,” she thought to herself as a glimmer of self-preservation sparked her fading consciousness, and she burst out into the Passaic River. Nathalia had been given a swimming lesson when she was five years old and it came handy as she floated on her back until she had enough strength to paddle toward the Passaic shore…

“When I got to land, I tried to walk, but it was like I was drunk.”

Some good Samaritans took her to a hospital where she was treated for exhaustion and released.

I wanted to send Nathalia some flowers, having lived through her ordeal a hundred times myself in my dreams, the only difference being, when I get flushed out into the Pacific Ocean, I start dog-paddling for Hawaii.

I know what Nathalia must be thinking, as it is the same for all of us who have narrowly escaped an early exit from this Earthly realm. She is thinking, and rightfully so, that there might be something she should be undertaking to make this world a better place. Leaving the world a little better off than we found it is really our loftiest goal and noblest worth. And too, though I don’t speak Latin, Omne Solum Forti Est – All Earth is to such a survivor, her country.

Close calls, like Nathalia’s, awaken a sleeping giant within, a giant big enough to embrace the entire world, whether it be with words, music, art or kindness.

While most of us spend our lives attending to economics and technology, we pay little attention to the bigger picture, that of saving ourselves from ourselves. We have to believe the world is ready for a sustained refreshment of the soul. I happen to believe Nathalia will be one to reach out and furnish our wounded world the healing hug it so sorely needs, for as Mark Twain once so astutely observed, “Providence don’t fire no blank cartridges.”

Learn more about McAvoy Layne at

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