On December 23rd, 1994, I almost bled to death as the result of a horrendous skiing accident.
I was skiing with my brothers on an icy winter day, and in my feeble attempt to keep up with them, had a nasty accident that landed me in the hospital.
It was awful. I remember lying in the snow after striking what felt like a Mack truck, thinking to myself ‘what just happened?’
Then everything got really scary when I tried to get up.
As I flexed and moved my body and legs to try and stand up, I realized something was very wrong. What I didn’t know at the time is that my pelvis, parts of my hip, and my tailbone were shattered. I was bleeding internally and hemorrhaging blood, but couldn’t feel it.
When I finally got to the hospital, two days before Christmas mind you, the doctors immediately prepped me for surgery and put me under.
While the orthopedic surgeon was operating on me, he noticed a sudden drop in my blood pressure.
It dropped to the point where they had to medically resuscitate me. I almost died.
Life is incredibly fragile.
I don’t often think about death or the frailty of life.
There’s not a reason for me to think about it. For the most part, I’m healthy and have zero concerns for my well-being.
I live life like a guy who’s in his late 30’s, heading into his 40’s. I tend to live like I’m invincible and won’t ever die. Most days, I typically live like I’m promised one more day on this earth, working desperately to squeeze in a little bit more each day.
I don’t pop pills, don’t self-medicate, and don’t take any prescription medications. As a friend of mine once said, I don’t smoke, don’t drink, don’t chew and don’t hang out with people who do.
But our existence is still vulnerable. You’ll die someday. I’ll die someday. Life is short and we’re not here for long.
Seeing life through a different set of lenses.
People I’ve met that have experienced a near-death experiences tend to look at life through a different set of lenses.
From their encounter, they’ve learned that life is indeed fragile and tend to live with a renewed vigor and freedom.
They are liberated. They dream. They are confident. They are grateful. Most, not all, tend to live life with a reckless abandon, where their focus is on letting go of things instead of on hanging onto them.
I envy people that live this way, don’t you?
What I learned.
I’d like to think I learned something profound from my accident.
I want to say I had an epiphany which caused me to become some all-knowing intellectual with a level of emotional intelligence that rivals that of Jesus, Gandhi, and Tony Robbins.
But I didn’t.
I did discover some things. But it wasn’t the accident that taught me, rather the recovery afterward.
My recovery was rough. I got bad news from my orthopedist, after my surgery, and I had a choice to make. He told me I may not ever run again, and I’d have to learn how to walk. My doctor told me it would be hard. This news was pretty discouraging, considering I was an active, young guy.
But for me, it was all a matter of perspective. That’s the first thing I figured out.
My perspective changed. Perspective is a powerful thing. Perspective is the art of changing your attitude toward something. It’s choosing to make a conscious decision to live either in the negative, or live with a worldview that things could always be worse.
For me, perspective revealed that I needed to find joy in my trial and circumstance. Doing this wasn’t easy. Finding joy, and choosing to embrace this mindset, was the most gut-wrenching personal commitment I’ve ever had to make. But the alternative was way worse.
I also learned the power of goal setting. I’ve always been an intentional person who favors action over conversation, but living with purpose through goal setting is key to not wasting your life.
You can’t accomplish everything or be anything, despite what the commencement speaker told you at your college graduation ceremony. You can, however, set goals to help you achieve your passions in life.
Lastly, I learned not to give up. I could’ve thrown in the towel, early on, and ended up living in a wheelchair for the rest of my life. But I didn’t. Instead, I plowed through my physical therapy and found inspiration in accomplishing little victories.
Life is going to seem daunting at times, but there is always hope. You simply need to persevere and take action. Do not give up. Even when you fail, keep moving forward.
You need to learn to focus your energy on what you can control, get up earlier, learn to hustle, and embrace the things that make you wiser.
Change your perspective, set goals, and don’t quit.
Learn to be grateful.
Have you endured a scary situation in your own life?
Maybe you’ve had a life-threatening experience, as I did, that shocked your perspective, forcing you to be more grateful than ever before.
What was it and how did it make you more grateful for what you have?
Share in the comments below. I’d love to know how your trial made you more grateful, and if you learned the same things I did from a near-death experience.