Your life is a maze, your life is full of choices, do you leave those decisions to fate, will the wrong choice be your destiny? There are as many answers to the many questions in life as there are individual people on this planet. I don’t think I have ever heard the same answer twice, maybe close, maybe a variation, but never the same answer twice. Have you ever wondered why? What is our fascination, as humans, to need answers to questions. We ask other humans but those other humans are no different than us and are seeking answers of their own. Is it just a vicious little circle? Is there a true meaning to life and why we are here? Here at The Sting Of The Scorpion, as well as in my actual daily life, I tend to stay away from conversations regarding spiritually, afterlife, and the purpose of us being on this planet. Why? Mostly because my opinions vary from Joe Public and they are things that can only be spoken of in theory. I had my bluff called by my children over the weekend, they had questions about two specific times I walked away from death, and they wanted to know some answers. I have spoke here about two times in my life which I, statistically, should have died, but instead cheated death, both times successfully. These two times, coincidentally, do not give me personal pleasure to talk about either, but since I have these thoughts fresh in my skull I figured I would try to put them into a post.
Both instances, both incidents, both brushes with death are very, very long stories, so for the purpose of demonstrating the recent conversation I will condense them and just assume you can fill in the blanks. Both if these occurrences are very true and really happened to me. With that in mind let’s take this journey back in time now. When I was 15 it was time to get my Experimental Aircraft Pilots License because I had been leading, training, and preparing for a very long time. The date was set, the planning was complete, and everyone was in place. Amongst family and friends there were also people from the local newspaper and local television station because locally this was a big deal in the little farming community of Tea, South Dakota. When it was my turn I taxied out, did a final check of my Ultralight, pushed the throttle, and moments later I was airborne setting up for my demonstration of skills. After I had completed my designated moves it was time to bank around to line up for my final approach to begin my decent to land. At 426.3 ft in the air I hit a crosswind shear which stalled my engine which left me doing a nose down unpowered decent towards the ground, meaning I was falling from the sky like a rock falling back to the Earth. I remember the impact and the pain. 10 1/2 weeks later I woke up from the deep sleep I was in, confused, and surrounded by family.
I didn’t know why I was in a hospital room or why I was in so much pain. I was scared because I wasn’t aware what everyone else already knew. Later in the day the room was cleared of everyone except a doctor and my dad. Together they explained the journey I had been on for the previous 2 1/2 months. The impact of the accident caused 32 broken bones, one punctured lung, and my jaw being broken badly enough it had to be wired back together. When I arrived at the hospital in the backseat of my dad’s Volkswagen Thing I was pronounced dead due to heart failure and blood loss. After hours and hours of surgery I was stabilized but remained in a coma holding onto what was still my life. I was visited by a catholic priest later that day, since I had been baptized catholic as a very young boy, and the priest prayed with me while he explained it was not my time to die. To this day I don’t understand that conversation completely or what I was meant to do with the information.
The other time I was 26, while serving in the United States Air Force stationed at Holloman AFB, New Mexico. When I was younger I was a serious adrenaline junkie, I had a passion for going fast, for living life by the seat of my shorts. So much so that I had to buy a Kawasaki Ninja ZZ-R1100 because, at the time, it was one of the only street legal bikes that boasts speeds of up to 175 mph as a stock bike. I got the bike used from a fellow airman who needed to sell it because he was getting stationed in Alaska and he didn’t think he would have the opportunities to ride it any longer. I had other bikes before and after her but this black beast actually was and always will be my favorite. This bike screamed speed and danger which allowed me to take both her and I to our physical limits. I had a part time job in Las Cruces, 68 miles away from my house, under normal driving conditions and speed one can make the trip in just under an hour. I could make it in under 30 minutes on this bike and used to do it regularly in 40 minutes. One summer night, the skies were clear, the moon was bright, and I was running very late getting to my part time job. It takes a moment to get dressed and leave no skin exposed in preparations for riding this bike. After zipping the last zipper I kissed my daughter and (now ex) wife goodnight before tearing ass into the night. There was little traffic on US-70 that night which is the excuse I used to see if my bike really could get to 170 mph and maintain that speed. But, as it stands, I will never know personally because while passing 3 18 wheelers at over 150 mph the bike lost traction, my bike and I were sucked under the trailer and spit out on the other side, resulting in me laying the bike down in a 100+ yard slide into and through the desert. When the dirt settled I stood up, checked my self out, and discovered I was in one piece, more than I can say about my bike.
This was a time before cell phones so I walked back to the highway and started walking back home. Lucky for me an older gentleman picked me up and drove me to the front gate of the base. It was a short walk to my house from there. I woke the wife up to explain and then called my best friend so he could go with me to scoop up the remains of my bike. To say it was trashed would be an injustice to the damage and reminded me what a lucky sonofabitch I really was since that crash should have killed me. Following the scrape from the highway through the desert we saw I went under a barbed wire fence and missed two giant rocks by mere inches. In fact, the lens on my helmet was smashed by the last rock which actually put the final stop for us. We loaded up the parts we found into the back of my truck and drove back to my house on base. It sat in my garage in a twisted heap for roughly six months when I had sold it as is to another speed enthusiast. I vowed then I would never own another invitation to death. A few years ago, much older, in my forties, I bought a Honda Goldwing, a touring bike, so I could get out and enjoy the open air once again. But nowadays, my only risk taking is driving into Houston.
After everything, I still ask if is fate, destiny, or the choices we make daily which allows us to cheat death just one more time. As I sit here I consider myself to be lucky because I have done some stupid shit in my life, hell I used to build explosives for a living, yet I am here today, a survivor of my own mistakes. The maze was found with a Google search, the picture of the tractor is of the remnants of the airstrip I crashed on taken this past March, and that is an actual picture of US-70 taken on a trip in late summer in 2009.