The closest I ever came to dying was over two years ago. Like many teenage near-death experiences, this one was entirely unexpected and so quickly recovered from that it barely registered as a blip on my adolescent radar screen. And yet, looking back now, I can frame the event in my mind: an inch or two one way, a half second more slowly or quickly, and I would exist either in a vegetative state or as a memory of existence, whose tenure on earth would be marked in cold marble on a sunny hill near a church in Woodbury.
After you complete a set of bench presses, you “rack” a long bar on a steel support above you. This places the center of the bar directly above your forehead. One workout, I set the bar down carelessly, resting its left side on the bevelled edge of the rack, rather than securely on it. As I rocked myself into a sitting position, I felt a 185 pound bar graze the back of my head, crashing like a piledriver to the floor. Had I gotten up a moment later, the bar would have directly met my forehead as I rocked upright, and would have slammed by head back to the bench, concentrating its entire downward momentum on a single point on my skull.
This story is not interesting because I did not die. However, it got me thinking just how much I take my life for granted. True, humans are not built to take joy with each new day - we are built to assume, gloss over, take for granted … but these are traits worth overcoming.
I have decided to remind myself of life. Not as some heavy-handed philosophical exercise, but as a way to be Happy. That reminder will take a musical form: I will play more piano, record another album, love the gift of 15 years of playing that I have been given. Plan your own reminder, too - we’ll try this together.
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