07 Mar Spotlight and Giveaway: Extraordinary Tales from a Rather Ordinary Guy
Extraordinary Tales from a Rather Ordinary Guy
December 4, 2014
The unEXPERIENCED Life Is Not Worth Living
Socrates’ famous phrase about “the unexamined life” has made its way into many lectures and speeches. It is advice known to many. I’m not a philosopher, but I researched Socrates and, I stumbled across a distinction he made between people (Athenians) who watched life and those who experienced it. Olympic athlete crossing the finish line displays a “semblance of success,” but is it true reality? We love to admire superb performances and bask in a new world record. But what would happen if we personally strove for such experiences ourselves?
I choose to experience life. It doesn’t need be extravagant or expensive. Life can be as simple as turning off the soccer match on TV and joining a local team, or signing up for a ballroom dance class rather than just watching “Dancing with the Stars.” Instead of reading books about the missionaries in India, you can instead sign up to help at your local soup kitchen. You can step away from your Facebook account and instead host a get-together with people you know or would like to know.
Doing is better than spectating.
My original plan in writing this book was to share with you insights from a recent climb I made of Europe’s highest mountain, Mount Elbrus. That was a victorious experience tempered by a tragedy that unfolded two days after the climb.
Tradition in the climbing world calls for celebration following a summit. While touring St. Petersburg, I was walking down the city’s bustling Main Street with five members of my team. We were trading climbing stories and talking about what motivated us to climb. People we met along the way said interesting things about the danger of climbing mountains. Our response was, “Life is short, and a sheltered life was no life at all. You might get hit by a car while playing it safe, so you may as well embrace risk.”
Although still light outside, midnight was approaching as we began the journey back to our hotel. Approaching the intersection by the Kazan Cathedral, we formed a quasi-column so we could pass pedestrians coming from the other side. I entered the crosswalk, leading my friends. We were immediately behind two ladies who looked to be in their twenties. Then, in a split second, tires screeched, headlights blazed, and I instinctively dove out of the way. To my left, I heard flesh hit metal…then glass breaking (a windshield). As I landed on the ground, from the corner of my eye I saw the two women cartwheeling through the air. By the time I rolled to a stop, they had landed ten meters away. Unconscious. Contorted. Broken. A surreal scene.
After a few seconds to express our rage and gather our wits about us, we jumped into action. JJ, our mountain guide, took command. We became doctors, EMTs and comforters. We stabilized both of the women. A dozen policemen showed up but then stood around completely clueless, staring at us. I have a vivid recollection of my bunkmate Frank clasping one woman’s hand and speaking calmly to her. She told us she was visiting from Siberia. Her friend lay un- conscious with her head held stable by our buddy Zac. At the ten-minute mark, a “first aid” vehicle showed up, and a woman wearing scrubs emerged. But she was with infection control and had no actual medical supplies. Limited to applying smelling salts, she was trying to get both women up and walking without having assessed the severity of their injuries.
Adding to the chaos, a policeman grabbed Zac, thinking he was the negligent driver, and tried to arrest him. Bystanders intervened, and Zac was released. We continued providing support to the women, but our counsel to the “infection lady” and the swarming, interfering bystanders was ignored. Ms. Infection Control was forcing the second patient, now conscious, to move despite obvious skeletal trauma. I backed off and prayed over the situation, asking God to send the Holy Spirit for comfort, healing and wisdom. Not having our passports in hand, we left a few minutes later as the mob grew more aggressive. My team prayed from a distance.
Back in the hotel room, I buried my head in a bath towel and sobbed. I Skyped my wife. Every time I closed my eyes, I saw those ladies doing cartwheels over me. I slept for three hours and then returned to the scene, which had since been cleared. I wondered what had happened to the two Siberian women and how they were doing. Who was looking over them? Who was holding their hands? Were they still alive? I spent another thirty minutes simply praying and reflecting on the evening’s events. I could not stop crying.
To this day, my team is still processing what we experienced. As traumatic as it was, we were glad we’d been there and hoped the aid we provided had helped to save a life. We witnessed first-hand how quickly life can be taken away in a blink of an eye by while doing something as innocuous as crossing a street.
Life is filled with tragedy and heartbreak. You can bank on it. But does adversity really hold us back? I’d venture to say it’s our fear-based beliefs gleaned from painful incidences or even simply the possibility of tragedy that paralyzes us. Instead of falling prey to paralysis, when we experience the depth of heartbreak we grow stronger from it. Conquer the fear and keep living.
Living life with no regrets means requires us to crawl out of the ashes of tragedy and walk away stronger. With purpose.
Determine to live a life fully experienced. We live.
About the Author
Edward W. Marx is the senior vice president and chief information officer for one of the largest faith-based non-profits in the country. Additionally, Edward is the governor-appointed chairman of the Texas Health Services Authority, providing leadership over health information exchange. He has served in this position since 2010. Concurrent with his healthcare career, he served 15 years in the Army Reserve, first as a combat medic and then as a combat engineer officer. Edward earned his B.S. in psychology and a M.S. in consumer sciences from Colorado State University.
Edward began his career working in the OR and then with physician services at Poudre Valley Health System. Recruited to Parkview Episcopal Medical Center, he served as CIO for its management services organization and director over physician systems. In 1997, he joined HCA as chief technologist for its physician services organization. In 1999, Edward moved to University Hospitals, a multi-hospital academic health system. In 2003, he became CIO and served for five years before being recruited by Texas Health.