The setting of the championship race was certainly picturesque: Castaic Lake, a reservoir formed by the Castaic Dam in the Sierra Pelona Mountains of northwestern Los Angeles.
Action scenes for movies and TV are often filmed there because of the gorgeous but rugged natural terrain, and this is where I arrived for the state championship. I was in second place overall, but this was the last race and counted for double points. I was focused in on my goal of taking the title. It didn’t matter to me that when the race started at eight in the morning, it was already a searing 95 degrees. Or that this particular year, they ran the course in a different direction than they had run it in previous years, which would entail far more climbing for the racers. About 5,300 feet of steep uphill biking was in my future during the 21-mile course.
Hours later, the win was in my reach. The race was three laps, and in the previous two, I’d always passed the first-place girl on the descent. Jon had taught me how to descend, and I was fearless about it. On the third lap, I spotted her right before the descent began, and I knew I’d pass her on the downhill and get to the finish line first.
That was the last thing I remember.
All of a sudden, I woke up at the bottom of the hill with pine needles stuffed into my jersey. My helmet was sideways on my head and cracked in several places (although I didn’t know that at the time). I wanted to climb back up the hill, but the pine needles were so thick that I kept slipping.
Another cyclist saw me struggling to get up the hill, stopped, and said, “Are you okay?”
Later, he told me that I was trying to get back on my bike and just kept falling back down the hill. All I remember was pedaling and watching that girl in front of me. Eventually, doctors would tell me that memory loss is retroactive, and this is why I don’t remember the actual fall or trying to scramble back up the hill. I assume that I passed out when I was pedaling due to dehydration-I thought I’d been drinking plenty of water, but it must not have been enough for the heat. I blacked out and fell down a mountain.
What happened next was the most important thing to ever happen to me.
Somehow my body finally dropped to the ground, and I started to float above the entire scene. I was hovering over my body, which was down below me. I could see people surrounding me, but I couldn’t really tell what they were doing. Instead, I could tell what they were feeling. Some of them were feeling like they were on-purpose in their lives and put here to be emergency medical technicians. Others were off-purpose and wanted to do something else-one wanted to be a painter. I knew that one of the female medics had romantic feelings for one of the male EMTs, but she was too afraid to tell him. I could feel their thoughts, their desires, their unmet needs, but I couldn’t hear their voices, as there was no need to do so.
The place I was in was magical. It was vast and pure, with a type of expanded consciousness that I had never experienced before in my life. It was beyond words. I don’t even know if there are words that can explain the level of consciousness I experienced. No words could explain something that is much more expansive than anything I’ve ever known here. I once looked out over the cliff at the great Grand Canyon, and this feeling was even vaster than that experience. When I ask myself why now, I know the answer. This was a place of complete, unconditional love.
There are no conditions of any kind in this state of pure expansion. There are no boundaries; no pain; and no past, present, or future. It is all of those things at once: the past, present, and the future occurring at the same exact time. It is actually a state of all-encompassing awareness rather than a “place.” It just is.
I can’t report that I saw a white light, nor did I travel down a tunnel according to the classic depiction of a near-death experience (NDE) as defined by Dr. Raymond Moody. All I felt was vast consciousness, and anything that came into my awareness was instantly manifested in front of me. I thought of Asia, for example, and Asia was in front of me. I’m not specifically sure why Asia came into my awareness, as I’d never been there; however, it is the best way I can describe how everything was immediately in my realm of awareness, without borders. Even the most remote place I could imagine appeared in my limitless sphere of consciousness.
I was definitely not creating this in my mind, as I was the furthest from analytical thinking I had ever been. I was purely experiencing this peaceful state. I felt so serene and wanted for nothing. There were no unmet needs, hopes, or goals. There were no desires, as everything was present at that moment.
What I would find so interesting when I would look back on it was the absence of pain in that state. What I know now is that all discomfort is created in the mind. I had no feeling of pain after my accident-in fact, I couldn’t feel my body at all. Now I see bodies as beautifully intelligent sacs of fluid and bones, encapsulated by the boundaries of our skin. Don’t get me wrong, because I love our human bodies and know that they are amazing creations, but I also know for a fact that we are not our bodies. We are pure expanded consciousness.
Back at the mountain, one of the EMTs was asking, “Are you Jon?”
“Yes,” a familiar voice said.
“She has been saying your name. She has been asking for you.”
I saw this silver cord, luminescent, pure, and bright, attached between Jon and me. It was like a light beam connecting us. I saw the connection, and knew that it was something quite significant.
At that moment, I jumped back into my body, which felt very confined and small. I looked up, and my eyes met Jon’s. I didn’t have the ability to speak because my body had been throwing up. These wonderful medics kept turning my head to the side so that I wouldn’t choke on my own vomit. Even though I couldn’t form any words, I marveled that I could communicate in a new way.
I spoke from my eyes to his eyes. And it was one of the most powerful and complete communications I had ever experienced.
It only lasted seconds, and then I left again, returning to this beautiful place of expanded consciousness.