There is life and there is death. And sometimes, there is both at once.
The long story made short is that my brain needed to be refi red, rewired, and reprogrammed. And if that critical half-second of reaction time is still at times just a bit too quick for me, Iâ€™m getting there. I have survived, and then some. Which is why on the day I stepped too recklessly off the curb, when I snapped out of my daydream, I saw the jumble of careening chrome and metal bearing down on me and
nimbly skipped back onto the curb, safe and sound and ready for the next mundane life-or-death episode.
Another victory for the good guy. Another day when I could step over not just a dangerous situation, but step over myself, my old self, the self that wasnâ€™t supposed to be able to do that.
Those triumphal steps are hard earned, a good reason why I never take them for granted. One of the oldest clichĂ©s is that you never know what youâ€™ve got until itâ€™s gone. Itâ€™s old because itâ€™s always true. Anything Iâ€™ve accomplished in my thirty-three years on Earth is nothing other
than a blessing. Simply living is the greatest rewardâ€”all the others are the gravy.
Such a rah-rah philosophy may seem somewhat trite and Pollyannaish.
I can accept that. Th e larger context of this book, however, and the reason I wanted to write it, is to celebrate a simple fact of life, too simple for many to get: that we all need to overcome something that threatens our safe passage through life, and my experience can provide both a specific and generic template on how to do it. Itâ€™s also, if I may
say so myself, a fascinating tale on other levels as well, one of medical bumbling and redemption. On the one hand, some of the finest doctors in the world were blowing it with their diagnoses, but on the other, they were performing a near miraculous nine-hour operation, radical for its day, to save my life. The story also takes us through some of the
worldâ€™s most exotic locales that unfold not unlike a travel brochure for the rich and famousâ€”two things I most definitely am not. Moreover, such was my unending pain as a child that I was never able to sit back and enjoy the scenery or seductions of these places, having been dropped
into them by my fatherâ€™s peripatetic life as an international real estate developer.
Writing this book was also, I might add, not incidentally a form of therapy, helping me to deal with and make sense of some of the painful scars I bear, both physical and mental, by reliving events I would sooner forget, but which make me stronger if I donâ€™t forget them.
Itâ€™s by now obvious to me that the power of the human brain is endless. It can overcome just about anything, even damage, because itâ€™s a remarkable organ. For example, itâ€™s not coincidental the little freezeframe
of incipient peril I mentioned above happened in the canyons of New York City, where as a rule, oneâ€™s wiles and survival instincts are put to the test. Perhaps, on some subconsciously guided level, thatâ€™s why I moved there a decade ago, though there are other â€śofficialâ€ť reasons that will become evident. New York off ers the kind of challenge to a
recovering brain-damaged patient that simply canâ€™t be found elsewhere.
My feeling is this: if you want to master ultimate challenges, why not head straight into the lionâ€™s den?
In a Sheryl Crow song I love, â€śEvery Day is a Winding Road,â€ť she sings: â€śEvery day I get a little bit closer to feeling fi ne.â€ť In a nutshellâ€”Iâ€™m tempted to say in a craniumâ€”thatâ€™s the theme of this book. Everyday, you get a little closer. This goes for anyone, not just those who like me are recovering from a serious brain fissure. If like me youâ€™re a sports
nut, another way of saying it would be that you move the ball another yard down the field. That is my perpetual game plan, my high-powered ground game: three yards in a cloud of dust, but hopefully with less confusion with each carry.
Thereâ€™s nothing special about my ability to recover my faculties, my steps, and my life, though I admit to a stoic state of mind that may have been handed down to me by the Spartan kings, as I will explain later.
Those warriors were famed for their ability to endure pain in battle for the greater good. That would be a heck of a legacy, if I had it, yet while I truly believe my genetics contribute in some way to my constitution, I also believe the qualities we need to survive a physical crisis are in us all.
If this book helps persuade even one reader of that, and makes him or her able to step over him or herself into a fruitful and happy life, then I will have made a contribution of which I can be proud.