Turning Point
by Matt Newell

This is it. I know were in trouble and I know we’ll be questioned. What can they do, search me? Don’t say shit! They’ll don’t have to find out anything if you don’t want. It’s not worth getting kicked off for bringing cigarettes. Then why the hell did you bring them!? My mind was racing as we approached the top of the rock formation, which we had been hiking since dawn. We hiked silently, everyone knew something was wrong. What the hell should I say? I’d been in this type of situation before, but this was Outward Bound and I’m hiking up a mountain to hear a bitching. Something was driving me the other way. “You’re here to change Matt,” I said to myself. Change. Do something different. What?! My internal self fought back. If you want to change then stay on the trip! I thought. It’s only day 6 and you already fucked up and they know. If I left now there would be no change! I wanted more than ever to change; to do something different. Most of all I wanted to feel better about myself. Maybe you finally deserve to be judged. I thought.
“Circle up.” Nick said calmly. His face looked cold as ever to me. “Some of you might know why were up here.” Silence. It’s day six and we are totally off on the wrong foot. We need to come clean about some things with each other or this trip can’t go on.  I’m only going to ask this once.  Who brought the pot, and who brought the cigarettes? We’re not leaving till you guys come forth.” Silence. I knew he had already asked me if I had anything on day 1 and I remember lying to his face. “It’s only fair for the group if the people responsible to came forth. It’s not fair for the innocent.” Nick said. I looked up at the faces around the circle. Most were looking at the ground, with the occasional glance at me or others, each glance looking more impatient as time went on. I was ashamed to look up. I felt like the world was waiting on me. Everyone knew who was who. But who would be the first to confess? Who would be the one to risk it all and set an example? This was the question ringing in everyone’s mind. I was the oldest yet I felt like the youngest and most ignorant, stubbornly sitting there.
My mind was going insane. More than ever now I wanted to be the one with the courage to be honest. But still I fought. I tried to think of what could happen if I confessed, but my mind would not let me. I felt I couldn’t live in a lie anymore. I can’t stay hiding forever. Then I understood. It would not be just easier on the group but it would be best for me to do as well. I didn’t know why at the moment, but everything was telling me it was the best option. This is the perfect time to finally tell the truth. Do it! But still I fought. This was how I did things. Break it! The silence was the worst. I felt the pack in my hand yet hesitated. I knew I must find some way to confess. My mind would not let my tongue speak but I could stand. My body let me! What are you doing?! Shit. Now I have to confess. My heart was racing.
As I stood there it seemed like forever before I finally said anything. My mind was trying to figure out why my body had made me stand. I pulled the pack out and said, “I brought a pack of cigarettes. I apologize for lying.” As I walked over and gave Nick the pack I was absolutely amazed at what I was doing. A surge of the best feeling I’d felt came over me when I handed the pack to him. I was extremely proud of myself. I was utterly amazed at what possessed me to do this. I walked back and sat down in my place in the circle. I was scared to see the faces, so I looked at the ground. “Thank you Matt,” Nick said quietly. Silence. As I looked up I found the eyes staring at me with amazement. This made me feel the best. Silence. What now? Now your in trouble and you might get kicked. My mind harshly screamed at me. When it hit me Nick instructed me to follow him, and he asked Casey to take over the silent group. My wonderful feeling quickly turned into one of the worst feelings I had ever had. I was sure now that this was not a light thing. To bring cigarettes on a 50 day Outward Bound leadership semester was a serious infraction. He said nothing as we walked over to the edge of the cliff. “Sit here, I’ll be back. We still have a lot to sort out.” I sat on the edge. My mind finally would let me accept the reality of what could happen to me. I thought about where I was. I was in Utah sitting on top of a cliff waiting for my fate to come to me. I was truly at a turning point in my life. I realized that if I was kicked, my parents would be ashamed of me and they would deem college not right for me yet. Or I could stay and have an amazing experience and come back a week before I leave college. More than ever I wanted to stay and fully embrace this course.
I stared off at the sun rising over the tan colored cliffs. The canyons river shimmered from the sun and it really hurt to look, at but still I stared. The agonizing feeling was now in my gut. My stomach would drop when I saw the birds dive off the small shrubs off the cliff. I was terrified of heights but it did not effect me much. I thought about the rest of my family and realized I was being closely watched now. Then I remembered that my grandparents had paid for me to go on this amazing experience and if I were to leave they would know for sure. My stomach cringed. The thought was unbearable to me. I could not take the thought of my grandparents knowing this. Before I left they found out about my awful addition with weed and now I’m supposed to show them I can change! I did my best to fight the feeling that was quickly taking over my body and mind.
A tear flowed down my cheek yet I tried to hold them back. I had been holding back a long time. I knew that if I were to go down I must go down strong. I wished I could tell Nick how badly I wanted to stay. I wished that I could tell him what I was feeling. Nick finally came. He was very compassionate. He told me he knew how tough this was and it would not be too much longer. I said nothing. Still I pondered why I had done this to myself and as I watched the birds fly I’d realized why I had done this. If I was not truthful with myself, there would be no change. There would be no point; I realized I had to do it. Something inside was pushing me to be better.
The view was amazing. I realized how blessed I was to see this beauty. It hurt me to think I might not get to see it for long. After three hours of watching the sun rise Nick finally came and got me. I hadn’t moved. By then I had prepared myself, and I was ready for anything. It hurt to stand, but after walking a bit I felt better. We walked down the rock formation back to camp. I had not moved all morning, yet I was weak and emotionless from the experience. Everyone came and told me what a great thing I’d done. They said I’d be fine, but I wasn’t convinced. I knew I must be prepared for anything. I learned that because of what I’d done everyone else gathered the courage to do the same and bring forth their paraphernalia. At dinner that evening we circled up and the instructors announced that I was to stay. They told me that they could make a consideration about tobacco if it was brought forth in the right manner. I learned that if I had not come forth I probably would have been kicked. I learned that honesty is the best route to go. I have taken this ideal from outward bound and I use it. I’ve realized that being honest can mend you, and the situation.