It Has Been Seven Years Since I Fell...
And Cracked My Head

In America, we all celebrate special times each year like births, marriages, Christmas, and 4th of July. However, I am different than many, because I observe annually my dancing with death. On this date, May 18 seven years ago, I fell off a ladder and cracked my head on a stonewall of a flowerbed around a patio. That fall resulted in a traumatic brain injury, which the medical community calls a subdural hematoma.

Herman Melville wrote this interesting sentence in Moby Dick, "...and Heaven have mercy on us all - Presbyterians and Pagans alike - for we are all somehow dreadfully cracked about the head, and sadly need mending." Melville is correct even though he did not know that I am a Presbyterian. Nonetheless, we all in various ways are cracking our heads in some manner. We fall off a ladder or a long list of other problems faced during life. In addition to cracking our heads, we need in some manner to mend the effects of that cracking.

I have written about dancing with death many times over the past seven years. While I would not like to replicate winding up again in an intensive-care unit of a hospital for a month and not recalling a moment of that experience, I would not delete that event from my life. I have benefitted a great deal from cracking my head and my response to that event.

Steve Jobs, who also danced with death, said, "Death is very likely the single best invention of Life." Let me assure you that I thoroughly understand what Jobs said. He is correct. However, unless you have danced with death like Steve Jobs, Randy Pausch, Oliver Sacks, Kurt Vonnegut, Saul Alinsky, David Thoreau, and Professor John Keating, you cannot possibly understand this truism much more than from a very minimal standpoint. All these famous people absolutely comprehend what Jobs said.

The common thread for all these successful dancers is that dancing with death enlivens the dancer. You become more alive than ever before. I have used the term, transformative. It is an exhilarating transformation. When you realize in your gut that death will occur, you can change. You can live life from an entirely different perspective.

Interestingly, Melville also said in Moby Dick, "I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I'll go to it laughing." We do not know the future. Therefore, approach your future optimistically. Enjoy the moment...every moment. All too soon, those moments will be gone forever and along with you.

Here are some photos from an article observing the fifth year celebration.

Jack starting the egg and spoon race

Jack is getting instructions about running with an uncooked egg on a spoon.

Al and Jack racing

Jack is determined to win the egg race with me.

Rounding the corner

Jack is beating Scott.

Jack catching up

Owen told Kristin not to drop the egg.

Al tossing an egg to Jack

I hope the Pittsburgh Pirates sign Jack in a couple of years as their catcher.

Egg toss

Kristin either saw a vision or is attempting to catch an egg.

Catching the egg

Michelle wants to catch the raw egg.

Michelle and Jack on the shoreline

Jack discusses life with Michelle.

Owen playing in the grass

Owen is impressed with the grass.

Al and Jack writing in chalk in the driveway

Jack and I are doing street art.

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Connecting the Dots

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Darkest Before Dawn

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The Last Lecture

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Dancing with Death

Dancing with Death

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