“I’m Alive!”

Darkest Before Dawn

This is the backstory. I danced with death twice in the early part of 2008. One dance was due to falling off a ladder, which resulted in a subdural hematoma (traumatic brain injury). The other was prostate cancer that had metastasized beyond the prostate. Fortunately, I was able to out dance death on my dancefloor of life.

Both the dances radically changed my life in a most positive manner. Initially, I wasn’t aware of the changes. The accident of falling off a ladder caused me to be hospitalized in ICU for four weeks and a rehab hospital for another three weeks. However, I don’t remember the fall, going to the hospital, being transferred to the rehab hospital, and only remember the last week and a half before returning home.

When I finally got home, I had to restart my life. It took a couple months to return to my normal life. Nevertheless, I lacked a frame of reference of what the old me was like. During my recovery at home, I continued to make changes in my life, which weren’t considered changes by me at that time. I thought that I was just returning to my old normal. Nonetheless, it took about five years to realize the new me. I had an anniversary party, which I called my Humpty Dumpty Party. I planned a family party to celebrate nearly killing myself due to the fall. It seemed quite reasonable to have that party. Looking back on that party, I realize that it must have seemed avant-garde by my family members.

It wasn’t until I watched Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture before I realized the changes in me. The changes weren’t in direction but in intensity. It didn’t take but a few moments of watching that video before I realized what a eureka moment means. I was able to grasp what Archimedes must have felt a couple millennia ago.

That is the backstory. Now, let me explain my second eureka moment to you. I ordered a pair of loafers from Amazon. A couple days later, they arrived. I love my new shoes. However, what I love more was that the shoe company enclosed an envelope with a letter and a haunting picture on a postcard in the shoebox. Man, I looked at that picture of a guy standing on the roof of a crashed airplane for the longest time. It reminded me instantly of watching Randy Pausch. Pausch, the guy on the plane, and I shared something in common…survival. Eureka is the only word that I can express how I felt watching The Last Lecture video. As I starred at that postcard, it was the same eureka experience.

The Last Lecture and the postcard both define who I am. I’m alive! I have had the great fortune of reaching the twelfth anniversary of my fall. I lucked out. I won’t waste my remaining time on my journey down the yellow brick road of life wishing that things were different. I don’t want to relive either of my dances, but I would not delete either from my life.

My two dances made me realize that my clock was ticking. Unless you have done the dance and/or bought loafers from Amazon with that postcard, you know your clock is ticking…intellectually. Prior to my two dances, I was just like you. However, it is more than hearing the clock ticking. It is as if I can feel it in my gut. I am alive! I have things to do on the time remaining on the dancefloor of my life.

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