It was a blistering Thursday afternoon and despite the intense heat, I decided to get off the couch and go get after it. I recently made a pair of Olympic workout rings with PVC pipe and rope. After changing into my workout gear, I threw the apparatus over a large tree branch in my front yard. After some light stretching, I was ready to begin.
3,2,1, onto the first workout. I crank out sets of squats and muscle-ups. Done. Now onto the second workout. Sprints, more muscle-ups, and double unders. Done. Each time I completed the final rep of the muscle-up I dropped myself eight feet back to the surface rather than extending my arms at the bottom and lowering myself to the ground (i.e. the safer and smarter option).
The sun blistered off my back as my sweaty chest compressed and decompressed with each breath. The balls of my feet dug into the Earth’s surface as I prepare to launch myself into the air to grab the swaying Olympic workout rings for a third workout of the day. On each side of the rings was slack from the ropes with a double knot tied off at the bottom, similar to a noose. From eight feet above, the rings and its excess rope dangled over the Earth’s surface.
Suddenly, a wave of doubt draped over me. I looked at the dangling apparatus and its excess rope above. I can hear my own voice telling me to stop and wrap the excess rope around the tree entirely to avoid an injury. I did not listen to this voice. After I ignored the first voice, another voice spoke telling me that I had done enough for today as I was outside for 30 minutes on this hot summer day and that it was time to wrap it up. Once again, I did not listen to this voice. My voice of ego was louder than my voice of reason. “Na, one more. This is easy. I’ll be fine.”
After minutes of dousing out the inner pleas to stop, I was ready for the third workout but I knew something was not right. 3,2,1, begin. More squats, push-ups, and muscle-ups. As I finished the last muscle-up of the final round, I was fully extended in the air. My arms are locked, and my body is at full attention 10 to 12 feet off the ground. As I hang in the air, the satisfaction of completeness invigorates me. After my airborne celebration, I drop myself with the plan of landing back to Earth while simultaneously pushing the rings slightly outwards. The excess rope with knots at the bottom were waiting to greet me.
Within a split second, all 150 lbs. of me dropped with my throat catching the rope. POWWW! Blackness. The rope snapped right across my neck leaving me grimacing in pain. As I grasped my neck, everything was blurry but I could hear everything so clearly. I remember birds singing and how loud they were. It was as if they were playing inside my head. As I crawled on the graveled floor inching closer to my house, I continued to grasp my neck and check my hand for signs of bleeding, which there was. My front door was 20 feet away, but it felt like it was 20,000 feet away.
At that moment, all I could think about was my Mother. All I wanted to do was get to the phone to call her for help. My neck throbbed in pain. I sucked in the air trying my best to breath. I spat to see if had ruptured something in my neck. Luckily no blood came out. I grabbed my parked car to hoist me from the ground to my feet. I stammered into the house and grabbed my phone and dialed the one person who was always there for me, my Mother.
Trying my best to stand up despite the excruciating pain, I leaned on the bathroom counter. Puddles of tears accumulated on the counter as the dial tone rang in my ear. Time moved so slowly. Still grasping my neck and the phone, my lifeline, the best two words I ever heard sounded off in my ear, “Hey, Jord.” I pleaded with my mother to come home immediately from work as I tried my best to explain to her the situation. In a panicked state, my Mother rushed home to aid me.
As I waited for her, I continued to spit to check for blood. I removed my hand from my neck and I looked in the bathroom mirror and there was a bloody rope burn eight inches in length and 2 inches in width across my neck. Minutes, feeling like hours passed and then I heard the door open and it was my Mother. As a nursing assistant, she inspected my neck and immediately went into action. Over the next few days, I treated my neck with ice, rubbing alcohol, ointments, and such. I took migraine medicine for my head as each day I woke up, it felt like knives were pricking the inside of my head.
Fortunately, I made a healthy recovery over the next week, but the scar and the memory of that day still remain.
There were many lessons, I learned from this near-death experience.
- I am grateful to God that I did not break my neck and I’m fortunate the rope snapped. This situation could have played out in so many different ways. I wear the scar across my neck, which I call my Ring of Fire as it burned with an unimaginable level of viciousness. After many years later, I am grateful for what happened rather than what could have happened.
- Pay Attention to Your Energy. When something tells you, usually your intuition, not do or to do something, listen. This voice tried twice to tell me not to get back up there and this voice was not fear. It was a warning and I saw what could happen before it happened. Due to my ego and impatience, I ignored the potential and eventual wreckage and I almost lost my life or could have been severely injured.
- When you feel like you’re about to die or have experienced a near-death incident, or a devastating injury, only the most important people and moments in life matter. At that moment, the only person I wanted to speak to and see was my Mother. Life is short, and it feels even shorter when you feel like time is running out and you can’t do anything about it.
- The Eerie Silence. Once the rope snapped across my neck, there was instant blackness followed up with an immediate silence. I felt the drop of my body, the snap of the rope, but I didn’t fully comprehend what just occurred when I landed back to the ground. Then, all I could hear were birds. I could hear them so distinctly despite my entire system in shock. Twice I ignored the voice of reason, but now in the silence, I could hear everything clearer than ever.
I wear this scar across my neck each day. I remember its scorching pain but it has now faded into my skin. Life teaches you in various ways, some pleasant and some painful, and sometimes a mixture of both. God granted me safety despite the warning signs blaring in my face. On that day, I nearly lost everything but many years later I now realize that I gained so much. Thank you, God.
Photo Credit: Fula, Mateusz. “Animated ring of fire against transparent background in 4k. Ring, fire and smoke effect is isolated from background.” Shutterstock.com.