Drink The Wind.
I had been on the mountain for approximately 79 hours when I realized that I was beginning to lose track of time and the boundaries of my own skin. I had been recycling the advice given to me by those who had journeyed before me, "Don't think about how much time you have left." "Remember your practices and call on them when you get 'lost'." And, "be sure to build a shade structure -- the sun can be brutal."
I was told to use my sarong and the twine that held my sheep skin as materials for hanging a protective barrier between me and the mid-day Mexico sun. Given I had come up the mountain immediately following a sweat lodge, and had not taken food or liquids for three days, others before me had learned the hard way that shade was imperative.
I had identified a pole that encompassed my site and the one tree with which I shared my space. I sat against the tree and looked up at the sun. I probably had four more hours of direct light before it would set on the horizon. Although I had no timepiece, I could tell by the position of the sun in the sky that it was just after noon. And, I had begun to sweat.
In my three days of contemplation, I had concluded that sweating, crying, spitting, and even peeing were not in my best interests. The wets of my eyes no longer felt moist, and my mouth was parched, my lips cracked.
I leaned over and grabbed the corner of my folded sarong and pulled it toward me, expending as little energy as possible. The three yards of twine were neatly rolled and leaning against the tree behind me. I realized that the first thing I needed to do was stand up. This sounded simple enough, but I had been seated for most of the three days -- in prayer and reflection of my life, and standing felt foreign and unkind. Although I had done nothing strenuous for days, I was exhausted. I leaned on the tree I had been resting against all morning and slowly gathered myself to vertical, and began to walk the five feet to the corner of my space. I took two steps, slow and deliberate, and dropped to a knee. My mind went blank and I stared at the ground. For a moment, I remember feeling like I was no longer in my skin. I stood again, as I felt the perspiration dripping from between my breasts to my navel, and attempted, determinedly, to walk toward the corner post to attach the twine. Again, I lowered to my knee. This time, my hands also went to the earth and I desperately gripped the needles and leaves and dry ground in clenched fists as I gasped air into my lungs. I was in a emotional storm of fear and helplessness. My mouth fell open and I began to drool -- where it came from, I did not know, but I watched myself layer foolishness upon misery as my life dripped to the ground to pool. Shamelessly, I lowered my other knee out of necessity and continued my descent to the earth, curling into fetal position. There, I began to sob.
I could not do it. I did not have the strength to build my shade structure.
I was at the mercy of the sun and the sky and and the wind and the rains I had been begging for but had forsaken me.
I knew that all that was left in me was prayer. I let the tears flow, remembering that I had been told that no one ever died on this mountain as they prayed, and so I let be what was, and I cried my weakened self to sleep.
I awoke with tears and dirt caked on my cheek and the sun still high in the sky. My body was drenched in sweat. I crawled on hands and knees to the backside of the tree where there was a sliver of shade and leaned against the bark. I was out of the sun and I realized two things. This would be enough shade for me, and my mouth was very dry and tasted of metal. I slowed my breath and looked up at the sky and noticed that even in lifting my chin that the air smelled different. I was against the east side of the tree and turned my head to the north, again realizing that my senses seemed heightened. I could smell the pine needles, and the dry leaves of the native deciduous trees nearby. The scents were distinct from one another. I turned my head to the south, where the clouds hung low off in the distance -- I smelled the rain... I turned my head back to the North -- no rain... The air to the north was dry and made mel thirsty. For a moment, I thought I even smelled a snake. I turned back, again to the south, this time not only smelling the moisture in the air, but tasting it. I took long deep breaths and realized that my thirst was literally being quenched by the taste of the wind. I tested my theory again and again -- head to the north: thirst increasing. head to the south: thirst quenched. I literally was able to drink the wind.