At my core, I’m a movie geek, so I tend to see & relate to life in cinematic terms. But I have to say, if I sat in a dark room and watched the theatrical version of my life story, I would be the first to call out, “Bullsh#t! All of that didn’t happen to one guy!” But it did.
Call it fate, destiny, God’s plan or plain ol’ dumb luck: life’s trajectory has taken me down a path that has exposed me to many of the polar extremes in the human experience. I’ve seen some of the highest highs and lowest lows that life has to offer, no moment more evident than on the night of February 11, 2004, when a 40 foot fall from a ski jump took me from a top-tier athlete to a C3-C4 quadriplegic.
I know what it feels like to bench press 265 lbs., run a mile in five minutes flat and go toe to toe with some of the best athletes in the world. I’ve also survived four-story fall onto my head, 2 1/2 years of bed rest from an infected sore similar to the one that killed Superman, and five minutes of CPR after a MRSA infection made it into in my bloodstream causing cardiac arrest.
I’ve gone from being so in tune with my body that I could guess my weight within a quarter of a pound to so disconnected that I had no clue when my appendix burst. I have fathered a child I never got to meet because the pregnancy tragically ended right at the first trimester. And I have said the words “for better, for worse, in sickness and in health” to a soulmate battling a cunning, baffling and powerful disease only to bury her on our three-month anniversary when she ultimately succumbed to it.
From the outside looking in, I can see how my life would look like a cautionary tale for some… or maybe a really crappy country song. And that very well may be your opinion. But, for me, that’s just life. If you don’t risk the tragic, you’ll never experience the magic it has to offer. I’ve had the opportunity to see life from a number of uniquely different vantage points that have given me a much deeper perspective, which is probably why my voice seems to resonate with people in all walks of life. I have taken many of the risks people fear taking, experienced the highs they fear they are missing out on, and survived the lows they fear they would be unable to bear, and would readily argue that it’s all worth it.
In the span of a decade, I lost my baby, my body and then my wife. Just one of those tragedies by themselves is more than some experience in a lifetime. But all three? That’s a Tom Hanks movie. The depth and breadth of life I have experienced since my injury would leave even Forrest Gump speechless, staring slack-jawed at an empty box of chocolates… The only difference is that my story is real.
Stick around to find out what happens next… Whatever it brings, I’m going to do life.