I am an adventure-seeker. Flying trapeze and trampoline are my favorite sports. I’ve been skydiving. Fire walking. Parasailing.
I like to explore the world around me and the limits of my capabilities.
For many of the activities I do, I must sign a waiver. The waivers often mention risks like paralysis, loss of limbs, and death. They make the activity sound scary. That’s part of the function of a waiver: to make you aware of all known risks.
This language keeps some people away from the activity. It makes my mother extremely anxious. She worries about what could go wrong.
But here’s the thing: those risks are present in everything we do.
Everything in life comes with risk.
The Story of my Traumatic Brain Injury
Today is the four year anniversary of my traumatic brain injury. I sustained the brain injury not from a crazy adventure, but in the comfort of my own home — my own bedroom.
Four years ago, I woke up in the middle of the night to turn off the heat in my bedroom.
When I next opened my eyes, I was on a hard surface. It took a moment to realize that I was on the floor, partially under the bed. Confused as to how I got there, I slowly realized where I was and somehow managed to get myself up and back into bed. That was when I felt the blood at the back of my scalp.
I was alone, so there are no witnesses to what happened. The best guess is that I fainted and fell to the floor.
I had a history of fainting episodes in my teens and twenties, but I had always felt the warning signals and was able to get to the floor before fainting. Because I was half asleep this time, I didn’t feel the warning signals.
I crashed to the floor from standing. That’s a long way to fall to a hardwood floor. The best guess is that the laceration on my scalp came from hitting my head on the corner of the dresser.
It is by divine grace that I survived that night, and that I am here today in good health.
The fact that I woke up the next day and was able to get out of bed was a miracle. But it wasn’t just a miracle that day. It’s a miracle every day.
I could have snapped my neck. I could have broken bones. I could have been paralyzed. I could have died instantly.
It could have been much worse.
It wasn’t. And every day I am grateful for that. Grateful I survived that night and grateful for the new day I have today. I am grateful for all the adventures I get to have.
Life Has Risks
Just because you don’t sign a waiver to live life doesn’t mean there aren’t risks.
There is a risk in walking down the street, in getting into your car, in taking the subway, in sitting on your couch watching tv.
We get to choose whether to seize the incredible adventures that life offers or stay at home, shut off from the wonders and beauty of life.
Of course the latter option also carries risk.
My philosophy is that as long as I’m taking a risk anyway, I might as well reap the rewards: adventure, growth, feeling alive.
This doesn’t mean I throw all caution to the wind. I choose my risks consciously.
To be alive is to embrace risk. You get to choose. What’s your choice?
PS: If you’re following along with my annual review series, that will resume tomorrow.