Skip to content

Where Soul Meets Body (inaugural posting)

December 15, 2012

(Originally posted on: February 19, 2012 21:01)

I was woken up about four hours before I was due to come on my shift. There had been an accident. A man had been injured and the rig was in an upheaval. The victim was being rushed to shore for medical attention. Normal work patterns would come to a halt for a few days as there would now be a mandatory OSHA investigation.

I was on a oil drilling platform out in the ocean about 90 miles from Corpus Christi. I was on a rig that worked a rotation of 2 weeks on and 2 weeks off. During those 14 days we worked 12 hour shifts. The person that had been injured was my counterpart on the opposite shift. In another four hours I would have relieved this person to take over the duties he was performing.

The well we were drilling had reached production bearing strata. The rig was now flaring off natural gas. We were removing drilling pipe from the rig’s pipe yard to make way for casing pipe. The casing pipe would be em-placed down the depth of the hole and left permanently. It would keep the hole from caving in over the operational lifetime of the well.

We were roustabouts. Due to longshoreman labor rules, when pipe was unloaded from the rig down to a barge that was docked to the rig, we would be sent down onto the barge. When our rig crane lowered a bundle of pipe to the barge, we would run up to grab tag lines, guide the load to where we wanted to set it using the tag lines, and then undo the cable at each end of the bundle of pipe.

The man that was injured had run up to grab his tag line, but right as he was momentarily situated below the pipe, the steel cable wrapped around the pipe at his end broke. About seven of these heavy pipes came down on him. He never regained consciousness and died within about six hours of the accident. Every day we’d visually inspect those cables and we had authorization to toss any cable overboard if we saw corrosion. Yet in the marine climate these cables could corrode from the inner twines and not necessarily be visible.

The man that died was 18 years old. I was due to be 19 in another month – the two of us were the youngest workers on the rig.

He had been excited to get this job and was looking forward to working for the company and advancing himself, in time, to higher positions.

For me, this had been a job I’d gotten after my freshman year in college. I’d already had two prior summers of experience working as a roughneck on land-based drilling rigs. Some alumni from my university, an engineer for this offshore drilling company, had gotten me on. It was good money. Because of my prior experience I was already often working as a roughneck on the drilling floor when they need a fill-in. For a few days I’d even worked the derrick hand position (situated 90 feet above the drilling floor).

That was the summer of 1980. It was a turning point situation in my life because the incident provoked a manner of more serious reflection than I’d really ever engaged in before. There were limited entertainment options out there and on my off time, I’d sometimes just spend it looking out over the ocean to the horizon and think about things. I fully realized that if that steel cable had lasted for another four hours it could have been me beneath that load of pipe. So the question naturally posed itself: In the grand scheme of things, why this other 18 year old and not me?

I’d had my scrapes before in this manner of occupation. One time on a land rig I was struck in the face by the spinning chain when the chain thrower had thrown it in such a way that a loop of chain swooped down and caught me in the face even though I was properly tucked down. The chain is pulled by a diesel powered cat head. The force of it threw me backward onto the ground. I got back up, picked my hard hat up and wondered why it had blood on it, and then I started to collapse and was caught by my co-workers. I got a trip to the emergency room, stitches, and a permanent scar on my right cheek.

On another occasion I was doing fill-in roughneck work on the offshore rig. The driller sent me to get a part from our storehouse, which was located on the opposite side of the rig. Everything is done in a hurry on a rig. I ran off the drilling floor and started down the walk way along the side. This walk way was situated right over the ocean below. There was some service hatch in the walk way that had been opened and not closed. I was going full tilt and didn’t see that. I dropped through the hatch way but instinctively threw my arms out and caught myself. There I was dangling about 60 to 70 feet above the ocean waves. If I’d plunged on through I’d been swept away and no one would have known what to think of my demise.

When I worked up in the derrick position, there was the occasion that derrick hands dread, when I’d lost a stand of pipe being pulled out of the hole. The pipe would go across the derrick to the side opposite of the little platform that I stood on. I then had no choice but to take the safety harness off and go crawling across the derrick girders to retrieve the stand of pipe. When it’s a stand of drill collars, they’re several times heavier than regular pipe. It’s not a situation for those that have the least bit fear of heights. You flub up and you fall and you die. Basically you got to learn to not ever lose your stand of pipe – the hallmark of a good derrick hand.

I ended up quitting this job as I decided that offshore rigs have a lot more going on and thus more ways to possibly die. I spent the fall semester out of school, though, and went back to roughnecking on a land rig. Yet due to the causality of that young 18 year old man’s death, my life during that off semester took a different direction than it had been on before – in the spiritual sense, that is. I admit I was keen to know that there was something more beyond our apparent physical existence in the here and now.

I wonder about the circumstances of that fateful 1980 summer and fall – particularly the elements of what is popularly dubbed as synchronicity. As I was out of school working in the oil field that fall semester, there were situations that lined up and resulted in my taking this rather different path. The problem with so-called synchronicity, of course is that what one person sees as meaningful from their personal perspective may not be so impressive to someone else. Certainly synchronicity phenomena can be difficult to quantify to scientific satisfaction.

It has been over 30 years since that episode in my life. In 2009 I began to have experiences that typically are dubbed paranormal. In 2011 and to into the present, I began to experience what I refer to as numeric synchronicity. On the order of about 30 times a day I glance at some digital numeric display and see multiples of 11 – most frequently 11 and 44, to a lesser extent 22 and 33. On the treadmill I run on 5 to 6 times a week I’ll also see 77, 111, or 444. Because it has several read outs, I’ll very frequently see these numbers in combination – as I just happen to glance down at the panel display. It was very weird and rather unsettling when it first started happening. I even started to log when it happened and then saw just how pervasive and relentless the phenomena is, day after day.

I don’t really like having to use the term “paranormal” as it’s a loaded term that automatically consigns a person to that “whacky New Age crowd”. That’s not an association I’m particularly comfortable with. I’ve never been comfortable with touchy feely explanations of things, but I have tended to remain open minded about what might be possible. There are some folks that operate with a very rigid world view and they automatically (and dogmatically) self-sensor that which doesn’t mesh with their world view paradigm. I’m not one of those kinds of folk. My inner intuition has always been a vague sense that things may be much stranger (and perhaps more wondrous) than we suppose.

This was a long introduction, but I wanted to give some back ground of where I’m coming from. Because of what I experience every day I now wonder if life is arranged to flow in ways that are perhaps ordered, perhaps meaningful. One proposition is that life, being the product of blind forces of an unconscious existence, is simply a random walk of events – utterly meaningless. From my life experience I’m not seeing it that way. I even ponder this question: Did that 18 year old choose a life plan prior to being born that culminated in producing side effects in the lives of others, such as myself?

These are the matters we’ll be pondering in my blog. Welcome to Where Soul Meets Body.


Author and girl from Corpus Christi – about a year later after off shore incident


A land-based drilling rig author worked on prior to the off shore drilling platform. View of drilling rig mud tanks and mud pumps from up on derrick platform.


Land-based drilling rig author worked on in fall after the off shore incident. The derrick has a stand or two of drilling pipe racked.

MyCoreArticles (and some related links)
[awakening, synchronicity, Gnosticism, AAT, nature of reality/consciousness, etc.]


Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: