That’s right. Have a little humility. Life is mostly luck.

The single most important thing you can do to ensure personal success in any area is to be born in a first-world country. Almost everything after that is just jockeying for position.

Imagine being born in Albania or Madagascar in the 1950s or 1960s. Keeping your belly full without working yourself to death was a full-time job in itself. In your spare time, maybe you learned to read or maybe you didn’t. Would it bring you any real benefit?

I thought about this today reading about a type of brain injury that exhibits in linguistic issues. In one form, the injured can’t use connecting words. How weird it this? When they talk, they sound like a telegraph machine from Gunsmoke reruns: Food. Table. Sit. The person speaking doesn’t appear to know that they are speaking like this but, instead, believe that they are chatting away like they always have. Do they wonder why people around them scrunch their face and don’t sit at the table? This can be improved over time with therapy and it’s not understood if the people who experience this lose an understanding of connecting words in speech or if they simply lose an ability to use them. Very odd. I wonder if learning another language helps?

For other people, a brain injury renders their speech as gibberish. This has got to be more difficult to deal with.  My daughter understands what I want if I point to a chair and say, “Sit. Chair.” But for those who speak gibberish, it’s harder. These folks also think they are carrying on a conversation, but their speech is a mixture of words both real and made up and in no order. It’s as if words are written on 3×5 cards and, when we speak, we pull out cards to read to make a sentence. But someone has gone and mixed up the words and made up new ones. When the speaker says, “Say, Jane, shall we chambre the wine? Jane hears “Bluster mid lamp lamp rain otit.” How to live with this? I don’t know. From either side of the conversation.

How heartbreaking would it be for you or your spouse or family to live with one of these odd conditions. How heartbreaking if your child experiences this.  What kind of an experience is it to be trapped inside a world where we want to communicate, but no one understands us.

Since my cycling accident, I’ve had a very hard time putting up with arrogance and hubris. It still irks my wife when someone says that my being hit by a car was a one-in-a-million happenstance that will never happen to me again. Go ride! What the heck!  She gets the homespun wisdom, but, in the same breath, reminds me that we lived for two months at Atlanta’s Shepherd Spine and Brain Center where almost every case is a one-in-a-million occurrence. I had one friend who, in all probability, will never walk again whose life changed in the time it takes to fall on the front porch. He hit the right spot of his head on the corner of a picnic table on the way down. Now he sits in a wheelchair and has trouble understanding a basic conversation.  This happens somewhere to someone every single day.

It makes me feel humble for the things that we have. We’ve worked for things, true, and we work hard on our family. But it can all fade in a moment. Today or maybe in the morning. When my Dad was dying, he told me to do whatever I wanted to do today. Leave now! You might think you have tomorrow, but it comes and goes almost too fast to see it.


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