Sometimes it takes a life-changing event to realize something that was always in front of us.
Yesterday I listened to a man in his 40’s tell a story to an elderly lady while eating lunch at a diner. In his mid 20’s he had gone on a skiing trip with his then girlfriend and a few other friends. After a day of frustration helping out his timid girlfriend, he decided to go on one last run with a friend who was very talented at skiing.
After taking the lift to the top of the mountain (for the first time all day) and banking into a few sharp turns and steep downhills while following his friend, he decided to try to do one of the trick jumps his friend was doing. He mistimed and misaligned the jump and instead of landing the perfect back-flip he saw in his minds-eye, he went flying head-over-heels and ended up sliding off a 40ft drop.
Ribs cracked, lungs punctured, hips and pelvis broken, he recounted going in and out of consciousness as they tried to stuff a breathing tube down his throat on the helicopter. Without the ability to speak, he finally coughed sideways and saw the teeth that had been lodged in his throat fly out the helicopter window.
He woke up again once before his induced coma – long enough to recognize a doctor in the ER as the shortstop, Pedro, from his middle-school baseball team. Pedro didn’t recognize him because of the gore, but saved his life with numerous surgeries.
After talking in detail about his reckless decision and the debilitating aftermath, the man concluded with a simple observation – “I had been so reckless with my life up to that point because I thought no one was watching and no one cared. It was only when I woke up after weeks in a coma to see my friends and family gathered around that I realized people had been there the whole time.”
By our very nature, we to slip into solipsism. We feel isolated and scared to face our inner wildman. But the truth is, people are watching, they do care, and what we do every day can help and effect those around us for the better.