I can’t believe that on this exact day 9 years ago I was dead to the world. I was unconscious, in a deep coma on a hospital bed in the so called ‘intensive care unit’ in the Kuala Lumpur public hospital, attached to life support and gone to the world. Mum and I later found out from the doctors who treated me that based on the severe trauma I had sustained prior to falling into a coma, I had a 5% chance of waking up from the coma. My soul had left my body and there was little more than the life support system I was attached to keeping me on this earth.
God, or however you want to define that word, be it the source, mother nature or the infinite universe was not done with me just yet. By the grace of god, I was given a second chance and I opened my eyes the morning of the 2nd of February, confused and riding a wave of morphine and other opiate-based pain killers, perplexed what all the fuss was about and why I had tubes running down my nose and throat. I quickly attempted to pull them out and get up, which was met with restraint by the doctors and nurses who, unbeknown to me, were keeping me alive.
For those of you who I have not met and explained what exactly happened, here is what I know. I was in the Reggae Bar in Kuala Lumpur on my last night there, having a few quite drinks with some girls I’d met. I have no recollection of anything more beyond around 10pm. I suspect I was drugged and subsequently robbed since I distinctly recall having no more than two drinks, since I had an early flight to catch the next morning to Kota Kinabalu – it was my friend that I was meeting there who had raised the alarm of my absence. I’d later heard from the nurses looking after me that robberies are common there and not only that, actual organ theft is not uncommon – luckily the ultrasound scans showed all my organs in place (although not intact).
The warm and caring nurses looking after me later told me that an ambulance was called to a construction site nowhere near my hostel or the bar, in a dangerous, gang-controlled part of Chinatown where the even police tend to stay away from. The surgeons who had operated on me upon my arrival into the emergency room reported that, based on my injuries, it appeared that I had fallen from a height of between 4 to 6 storeys, which is approximately 12 to 18 meters. It’s not only a miracle that I survived these injuries (massive blood loss, multiple skull fractures, minor brain damage, broken wrist, knee in pieces, ruptured liver, ruptured stomach, the list goes on…), but that I can even walk at all, let alone can write this post to you now. I was in hospital for 2 months and had undergone 11 operations to piece me back together, being moved to the far superior Raffles private hospital in Singapore by my insurance company after them finding out about some malpractice and mistreatment at the hospital in Kuala Lumpur (cheaper than the $5m death payout!).
I now write to you from the comfortable home of a generous and warm Peruvian family in the sunny, tranquil city of Florianopolis in Brazil, feeling elated and immensely grateful to be alive as I ideate and plan the next stage of my life (which I sometimes take for granted – I’m only human after all!). I shed tears of joy as I listen to Vertigo by Of Mice and Men – something about the chorus triggered such feelings of overwhelming gratitude that I had to stop everything I was doing and write this post. It’s probably worth noting here that Thrice’s Artist in the Ambulance had helped me find meaning and growth from this experience at times when I had become jaded with life). My gratitude for being given a new lease on life is not enough to be contained within myself – I must share it with you, the reader, so hopefully some of it rubs off and you feel it too – perhaps you will share your gratitude for being alive with someone close to you and so on.
Dear God, Pachamama and the universe at large, thank you for giving me another chance to prove to you that I can be a force for good in this world. I promise I will not let you down, and that I will do everything in my life from the intention of love and with full honesty to myself and everyone around me. I will not let you down, your gift to me was not in vain. I will become the warrior of love and peace as my mother had named me.
Before I sign off I’d like to share this quote from Jordan Peterson’s immensely powerful and profound new book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. I initially wanted to include only the last few sentences but then I realised that including it in full was the only way. I hope Jordan Peterson does not mind me sharing with you this powerful passage in full. My promise to Jordan Peterson in return is that before I seek to change the world, I will first clean my proverbial room.
Meaning is what is put forth more powerfully than mere words can express, by Beethoven’s Ode to Joy – a triumphant, bringing forth from the void of pattern after pattern upon beautiful pattern, every instrument playing its part, disciplined voices layered on top of that, spanning the entire breadth of human emotion from despair, to exhilaration.
Meaning is what manifests itself when the many levels of being arrange themselves into a perfectly functioning harmony, from atomic microcosm, to cell, to organ, to individual, to society, to nature, to cosmos, so that action at each level beautifully and perfectly facilitates action at all, such that past, present and future are all at once redeemed and reconciled. Meaning is what emerges beautifully and profoundly, like a newly formed rosebud, opening itself out of nothingness into the light of sun and god. Meaning is the lotus striving upwards through the dark lake depths through the ever-clearing water, blooming forth on the very surface, revealing within itself the golden Buddha himself, perfectly integrated, such that the revelation that the divine will can make itself manifest in his every word and gesture.
Meaning is when everything there is comes together in an ecstatic dance of single purpose, the glorification of reality that no matter how good it has suddenly become, it can get better and better and better, more and more deeply forever into the future. Meaning happens when that dance has become so intense, that all the horrors of the past, all the terrible struggles engaged in by all of life and all of humanity to that moment becomes a necessary and worthwhile part of the increasingly successful attempt to build something truly mighty and good. Meaning is the ultimate balance between on the one hand, the chaos of transformation and possibility, and on the other, the discipline of pristine order, whose purpose is to produce out of the attendant chaos a new order that will be even more immaculate and capable of bringing into being a still more balanced and productive chaos and order.
Meaning is the way, the path of life more abundant, the place you live when you are guided by love and speaking truth, and when nothing you want and can possibly want, takes any precedence over precisely that. Do what is meaningful, not what is expedient.
This experience alone did not give my life meaning, but it did set me on the path to give back to the world in the most effective way possible, from the understanding that, by sheer luck (a roll of the dice if you will), I was fortunate enough to be born and raised in a relatively privileged situation that never left me wanting. As a result I don’t need to work all that much to meet my basic needs and hedonism had only ever provided short-term pleasure without nourishing the soul. I now understand that it is this understanding and my gratitude for being given a new lease on life that drives me forward.
Enjoy and much love!
ps. I wanted this post to focus on the gratitude I felt for being alive. This experience had also led to post-traumatic growth resulting in fundamental changes in my life immediately re-prioritising everything, which I will write about in a future post.