Many years ago in the year 2007, before Barack Obama was president and social media was a college dorm room pipe dream, I was living a half-life. I wasn’t aware of it at the time. My weight was 215 pounds, 30 pounds heavier than I had been in college only five years before. I would hang with friends, occasionally unsuccessfully dated, and had no idea how I was going to use that $90,000 private school art degree.
Then, on a blustery Monday that happened to fall after Thanksgiving, a rusty green minivan was under the control of a cell phone user who was too busy texting to see little old me crossing the street. In the five seconds that I was aware of the impending doom, everything that I hadn’t done with my life was suddenly urgently important. Those five seconds felt like an hour as the green beast rolled into the crosswalk. It hit my hip and left a livid bruise that went to the bone. I tore several muscles in my right leg that left me with a severe limp for almost a year. Because I view myself as Wonder Woman, I put out my hand as if that would stop the minivan from hitting me and my shoulder still twinges when I lift something too heavy. In five seconds my life was flipped upside down and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I wasn’t aware of that at the time either.
In the years that followed, I got my weight down to 150, opened an Etsy page that keeps my art degree diploma happy, and have traveled the world. I’ve completed 14 of my top 15 bucket list items, although seeing a Packer game at Lambeau Field still needs to be done. My body feels fit, with my right hip giving me the occasional reminder of how quickly things can change. That pain keeps me honest. It appears just when I find myself getting lazy or complacent. Even Wonder Woman has her bad days.
Ten years ago my life really started. Once, while traveling southern Australia, I was chased by an emu. I laughed while I ran for my life while also hoping that the six-foot-tall bird didn’t peck me to death. The Bellagio fountain in Las Vegas almost had me as a clumsy fully clothed swimmer. Twice. I wore a sombrero while enjoying margaritas and fajitas on my thirty-seventh birthday and I enjoyed every minute of it. I discovered a couple years ago that Arches National Park should really be named Big Giant Cock National Park. This year I tried cannoli for the first time. Why did no one tell me it was so delicious?
I could write you some clichés about living life to its fullest and life is short but I won’t. I will, however, tell you that if you have the opportunity to take a plane ride over Kakadu National Park in northern Australia you should without hesitation. If your brother asks you to be in his wedding and wear a bridesmaid dress even though you would rather wear combat boots and yoga pants, you should wear that dress with Wonder Woman type strength and class. When the day comes that you might fail, you shouldn’t fear it. You are stronger than you know.