Before and After
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“Before and After,” New Era, June 1993, 12

Before and After

I still have the same priorities, but the accident certainly rearranged them.

In early 1991 I was involved in a car accident that left most of my body paralyzed. Since then I have had a lot of time to compare my life before that incident with my life now. In some ways it is similar. Yet there are numerous differences.

Before my accident I had the attitude that I should try to perfect the four basic aspects of my life. Ranked in order of importance at that time, they were: (1) physical ability, (2) mental ability, (3) spirituality, and (4) emotional stability.

One year later, perhaps the only thing that has changed is the order of importance of these four vital cornerstones of my life.

Before the accident, my perspective was that of an 18-year-old athlete who thought he knew everything. Although I grew up in a religious family and felt good about my beliefs, spirituality was not my top priority. Instead, physical strength, speed, and quickness were more important to me than either religion or school. I felt that going to school was a necessity simply to remain eligible for sports.

Although I did fairly well academically, I often found myself practicing the sport of the season rather than studying for a test or completing an assignment. I had academic goals and important religious goals, but none of these took precedence over my athletic aspirations. The experiences I’ve had the last two years have helped me better understand what is really important.

Since February 16, 1991, the day I fell asleep driving my truck, I have had the opportunity to look at life from a completely different viewpoint. I have had a lot of time to think about and adjust my priorities. I still love athletics and believe they have the potential to build character. But they are not the most important thing in my life anymore. I recognize now that my religion, my family, and my friends are the foundation for my happiness, not a touchdown or a home run.

My mind is the most precious asset I have, and I realize that it must be exercised even as my legs or my lungs were exercised in athletics. I am grateful for the opportunity I have to attend college and gain knowledge. While the last two years have slowed me down physically, they have accelerated my spiritual and mental maturity.

Realizing that obtaining knowledge and spirituality is an on-going process, as well as increasing emotional stability and physical ability, I believe that the last two years of my life have been a step toward those elusive goals.

Not many people have the chance to actually live life from two very different positions. Because I can, I am grateful I have had this opportunity. It has helped me realize why my spirituality, mental capacity, emotional stability, and physical ability must be placed according to their importance.

Photography by Jed Clark