Mark & Sarah’s Story

Six years ago, Mark and Sarah were on a cruise ship touring the South Pacific when a violent tropical storm damaged the ship’s hull. Several passengers were knocked overboard and into the dark churning waters nearly 50 feet below. Mark and Sarah were two of the passengers who plunged into the cold waters that night. They frantically grabbed pieces of debris and hung on tight—doing whatever they could to keep their head above water.

The next morning, Mark washed up onto a small and uninhabited island. Sarah washed up onto a neighboring island, also uninhabited, about two miles from Mark.

After the initial shock of the situation wore away, fear and anxiety overcame them. They knew that it would not be easy. They would have to work hard to build a shelter, pick fruits, locate fresh water, and fish for food. The first few days were scary and difficult, but they both managed to build make-shift shelters to protect them from the rain and sun. They found freshwater streams deeper into the islands and plenty of fruits and nuts. As the days turned into weeks, they even got good at trapping crab and spearing fish.

In the late afternoons, Mark had some time to relax after a hard day’s work. He’d climb to his favorite bluff and watch the waves crash against rocks. As the sun set and the stars lit up the sky, he’d dream of galaxies far away and pray that he’d be rescued soon.

Sarah struggled to survive each day too. Like Mark, her day began when the sun came up. Chopping wood, climbing trees for fruit, picking nuts and berries, fishing, and getting water kept her busy. At the end of her daily routine, she’d long to relax on the beach, but she knew she wanted more than just to survive. Sarah wanted to get off the island.

Each afternoon, Sarah spent a couple of additional hours gathering and storing wood. She tested nearly every type of vegetation on the island to see which produced the darkest and thickest smoke. She collected rocks of all sizes and used them to spell “H E L P” in gigantic letters on the beach in four areas around the island. Sarah also dug fire pits on the beach in several areas where she kept a large supply of dry wood and special vegetation.

Because it rained often, Sarah found it necessary to continuously replace wet wood and vegetation with dry supplies. Her rock signs around the island also needed care and attention. Not wanting to place her fate in the hands of a rescue team that might never come, Sarah started building a raft out of bamboo and vines—a little bit each day.

Of course, she’d relax as well. Her favorite time of day was sunset. Sarah would take a handful of nuts and berries she picked earlier in the day down to the beach and sit under her favorite palm tree. She’d daydream about her family and how wonderful a big piece of her mother’s special chocolate cake would taste. During these daydreams, she’d also spend a few minutes going over her rescue plan.

Day after day, without any fanfare or recognition, Mark and Sarah did what they needed to survive. After several non-eventful weeks, that day finally came. Sarah was picking fruit near the beach and Mark was trapping crabs when they both—almost at the same time—saw a small plane in the distance.

Sarah jumped into action. She ran to the small fire and used it to light the large pile of wood. She dumped the vegetation on it and used her Tiki torch to light the other stacks of wood on fire. She then ran back to add more wood and vegetation to the fire. Huge plumes of smoke rose into the air and filled the sky above her island.

Meanwhile, Mark was frantic. He ran around trying to figure out what to do. He fumbled, trying to light a fire, and once he had one lit, he was disappointed that it produced very little visible smoke. He sprinted into the jungle and grabbed any kind of vegetation he could find to throw on the fire. Unfortunately, the vegetation he used quickly suffocated the fire and Mark wasted several precious minutes trying to light another one. Each time he threw new vegetation on the fire to create more smoke, the fire would die and he would waste time trying to restart it.

The plane turned and started heading toward the islands. As it got closer, Mark realized it was flying not toward him, but was headed several miles “off course.” The water plane circled Sarah’s island and touched down a hundred yards offshore. Two rescuers jumped out of the plane and started paddling toward her in a raft. As they got closer, she looked around her island one last time and dove into the ocean and swam toward the raft. Minutes later, Sarah was airborne. The pilot asked her if there were any other survivors and Sarah told them that she had been alone.

Desperate to get their attention, Mark resorted to running up and down the beach waving his arms in the air and screaming in desperation. As the plane flew out of sight, Mark realized that he had missed his chance.

Mark survived. He survived the 50-foot plunge into the water, lived through the violent storm, made it to dry land, built a shelter, and found food and water. Sarah also survived. She did what was necessary to make it each day, but she had a bigger plan—she wanted a better life. She wanted to see her family again, to taste chocolate, and to read a love story. She wanted to hug her friends and hear the sounds of her church choir. She wanted to pet her dog, attend a play, and grow old with her husband. She needed to survive on the island, but she made the decision that surviving was just not enough.

Mark and Sarah’s lessons aren’t reserved for castaways on remote islands. Their story is played out every day around the globe—in small towns and in big cities, in diners and in corner offices, and for those working for minimum wage and those pursuing advanced degrees.

If you feel like you are stranded on an island of monotony, unpaid bills, and forgotten dreams or if you find yourself daydreaming of a different life but have no idea how to achieve it, there is only one solution… The Other 8 Hours!

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