I've been thinking about luck today. I've had good luck. Back when I broke my neck --
Yes, I had a broken neck. More amazing, it was my second broken neck. More amazing, I was not renderd a parapalegic or a quadrapalegic. And that's the story of my luck.
The ward I was in after my injury and my second broken neck was full of lucky people. We'd all suffered serious injuries but we were the lucky ward. Beside me was the guy who sat down on the top of the dorms, fell off and landed on his back. He suffered a bruised back. They were keeping him for observation.
On the other side of the room was a guy who'd been crossing the street in the middle of the night. He was with a girl. An RX7 hit him. A 280Z hit her. The cars were traveling about 100 MPH. He went through the front windshield and out the back. Suffered some cuts and bruises. She had lived but was not nearly so lucky. She was in a different ward, the unlucky ward.
Everyone in our little ward of twelve had similar stories about parachutes not opening, falling out of windows, being in car crashes, and walking away relatively unscathed. What stroke exists that lets us survive while others suffer so horrifically?
What prompted my thinking was watching a movie. A scene showed someone falling off the edge of a road. They rolled and tumbled down the hill. I remembered going through something similar. It was dark, a still and moonless night. I knew the road had problems but was confident of getting 'home' to my hotel. Really, I had stopped thinking abou it. My mind was elsewhere.
I stepped off the road where it had fallen away and went over a cliff. Yet as I fell, I reached out and grabbed a small tree and hung on. After gasping and hanging on a bit, I pulled myself back up, working my way back up onto the road. I didn't know how close I'd come, how so very, very close. All I knew was that it was dark, I could not see, it was a steep area, and I could feel how very damn steep it was. Afterward, I stayed on the road for a few minutes on my hands and knees, sweating and breathing hard. Then I made my way to the other side of the road and very carefully continued on my way.
I had scrapes and bruises. I'd torn my pants and my shirt and ripped off part of one fingernail. Without telling anyone else what had happened, I went back the next morning, looking for where I'd fallen over. What I found took my breath away. It was so steep I was afraid to lean over it and look out. That little sapling was the one and only. If I hadn't grabbed it...if I had not hung on...I was gone, to the mountain and river far below. That I'd managed to, and then had managed to pull myself up...I broke out in fresh sweat contemplating the scene. Yet, I'd not even lost my glasses.
So many of my achievements are really a matter of luck. That one incident, though, seems like the perfect statement for all that's happened to me. Something happens, I react, and luck saves me, from employment to my life. I need to keep that in mind; so many others are not so very damn lucky.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com