Five times I almost died

times I almost died

This is Thanksgiving Week here in America. I guess at the top of the gratitude list is that I am here at all.

I don’t know why, but I’ve been preoccupied with cataloging and rating the times in my life when I could have died. I decided to write about it. Why waste the mental effort? Besides, you could use a break from the marketing stories, right?

Here are my five greatest hits. In some cases, literally …

BTW, I asked the MidJourney Artificial Intelligence bot to illustrate each story, and this is what it came up with. Always experimenting!

Number 5: The gorge

times I almost died

Many of you know that I have mentored kids for more than 15 years, especially a young man named Elijah. Elijah is the most athletically-gifted person I have ever known, and today he has a football scholarship at the University of Missouri. Ever since he was little, he was strong, fast, and agile.

One time when he was about eight years old, I took him on a camping trip, and we were hiking around some gorges at a magnificent state park. In a blink of an eye, Elijah had scrambled up a sheer rock canyon wall. The wall of the gorge was slick with moss and water, but there he was, staring down at me proudly.

I did something really dumb. In terror, I followed my instinct and climbed up the rock wall to get him. And I fell, tumbling down and cracking the back of my head on a rock. I knocked myself out.

I came to just a few moments later, with Elijah’s smiling face beaming over me.

Number 4: The plague

times I almost died

When it came to Covid, I was an early adopter — March 2020.

It was the meanest strain of the virus, and there were no cures or protocols at that time. The doctors would not even see you at that point. Their advice: Let it roll through your body and hope for the best.

I will not bore you with details but let’s just say that I was very sick for a month, and for about three days, I thought I was going in the wrong direction. The pressure in my chest grew more and more intense. I was getting sicker and sicker.

I had the wills out to make sure everything was in order.

Number 3: The accident

falling into a mirror

About 16 years ago, I was in an accident and landed squarely on the top of my head on concrete. I was momentarily paralyzed, which was terrifying. After about 30 seconds, my limbs worked again.

Stunned and disoriented, I drove myself to the emergency room, where they determined I injured my spinal cord. The next day, a neurosurgeon examining the MRI showed me how fluid was leaking out of the spinal cord. He was surprised I could walk.

I had surgery and now have a titanium plate in the back of my neck. For many months, my spinal cord was still on “random play” sending weird sensations through my body. This is the short version of the story, but it was a pretty rough time. I’m fine now.

Number 2: The old tractor

times I almost died

When I was about six years old, I lived in a crowded blue-collar Pittsburgh neighborhood. No parks, no playgrounds. A small square of land next to a sewage treatment plant at the end of the street was our baseball stadium, football field, and everyday meeting place.

But one day I got to visit a farm! My best friend Bruce would stay with his grandfather at his farm and he took me along one weekend for a sleepover. I was pretty excited to see some farm animals for the first time.

His grandfather had an ancient blue tractor. It seemed huge, but who knows for sure from my pint-sized perspective. Bruce decided he would show me the farm via the tractor and started the clackity engine. I am sure this was a rogue act of six-year-old bravado, but I did not question his authority.

This tractor was so old it had a hole in the floor where you could watch big greasy gears in motion. I don’t know how this happened, but the bottom of my jeans got caught in the gear under the floor. My leg was dragged into the gearbox. I screamed.

Bruce had the presence of mind to turn off the tractor immediately. I was saved.

I was about to be turned into ground meat, but I remember being most concerned that my mom would be furious that my pant leg was chewed up and greasy. And … she was.

Number 1: A trailer un-hitched

falling trailer

I was traveling west-bound on an interstate highway when a 20-foot trailer hitched to a truck traveling at a high speed in the opposite lane detached from the truck. How does that happen?

The trailer hit the concrete median between the lanes at 70 miles per hour. The angle of the concrete barrier launched it straight into the air like a rocket. It was a weird slow-motion moment. The trailer soared into the bright blue sky, into my lane, and was going to come down right on top of me and impale my car.

There was a small white car in the right lane next to me. With nowhere for me to go, I swerved to the right. I had a choice of one wreck or the other.

Miraculously, the driver next to me swerved in a perfect parallel car ballet into the emergency lane. The trailer landed right where my car had been, shattering into a million metal shards.

Me and the other driver just looked at each other from our parked cars in shock, aware that we had been so close to getting smashed by a trailer falling from the sky.

I am so weird

Honorable mention:

This weird mind game ranking close calls also led to another exercise … wondering how many times I have been close to death and didn’t know it. Like, was I ever close to a black widow spider or a serial killer?

For example, two years ago, I was hiking with friends and absentmindedly stepped over a copperhead snake. Probably would not have killed me, but it would have been a pretty bad bite!

I am so weird. Does everybody think about these things? Anybody out there catalog the times they almost died? I’m up to five. Is that normal or above average?

daredevil of loveI am somewhat disappointed that none of my close calls resulted from an act of daring, except maybe going after Elijah. I’m not a natural daredevil. If I was drinking whiskey, I might have written “… except when it comes to love.” The daredevil of love. Could be a great tattoo.

So there you have it. Five times I almost died. Bad luck, bad decisions, and a lot of divine intervention.

Next post, we will go back to our regularly-scheduled programming. Thanks for obliging me. Please don’t unsubscribe over this.

— The Daredevil of Love.

Mark Schaefer is the executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions. He is the author of some of the world’s bestselling digital marketing books and is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant.  The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world. Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

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Illustrations generated by AI courtesy MidJourney

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