Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Second Chances

It's an odd thing to feel like you're already living a second chance. Your first chance, when you're young and naive and innocent, ends when you do something that could realistically render significant repercussions, possibly the end of your life. After that, if you think about it, it's like you were given a second chance. At least, that's the way I look at it.

Obviously, there isn't any rule or explanation regarding the number of chances each person gets. Like everything else, it's different for everyone. Some may never get a second chance; for them, it's all over at the first substantial mistake. Others may get chance after chance, never realizing or appreciating the fact that they're living on the edge and that it may eventually catch up with them. Some learn to change their ways after a certain experience serves as a wake-up call to start being more responsible. Some are determined to test their luck forever, with no consideration for those that may be hurt along the way.

Like I said, I feel like I'm on a second chance. I left the younger, more innocent version of myself somewhere in the distant past. I drove fast, and paid for it in speeding tickets, though I was never in a serious accident. I drove without a seat belt, and paid the state of New York for that as well. I drove after drinking, and while I never got caught, I put myself and my friends in danger. I went too far with girls I didn't know, and I've drunk past the point of remembrance and challenged my limits to the brink of alcohol poisoning.

One time, at the beginning of my senior year of college, my friend and I decided to take a couple of bicycles for a joy ride after each having a few drinks. It was exhilarating, liberating, and incontestably foolish, and our route eventually brought us to the top of a hill, overlooking a path, which ran to the left of four collections of wooden stairs, all leading down to a rickety wooden bridge laid across a small stream. Once at the top, we prepared to descend the path, but my friend stopped to say something and I swerved to avoid hitting him, which led me right into the stairs. I couldn't avoid them, so I tried to ride down them, which I did, and I swung back to the left to rejoin the path. At that point, my feet had lost the pedals, which kept on going, and I couldn't catch them again. I tried to make the bridge with a sharp maneuver at the end of the path, but I couldn't make the turn fast enough. The bike hit the front left panel of the bridge, as did my head, and I was thrown over the handlebars. My friend ran down the path to help me out of the brush in which I had landed (I barely missed landing in the creek), and when I stood up there was blood rushing from the gash on my head. To make a long story short, I missed losing an eye, or worse, by about a quarter of an inch. Thanks to the work of a talented plastic surgeon, three layers of stitches have left me with only a 1.5-inch long scar through my eyebrow.

After that night, I fought with depression for weeks. Needless to say, I felt lucky that the damage hadn't been worse. I felt as if I had been given a second chance.

I don't think there was anything I did, or any mistake I made that resulted in my getting cancer. There are other illnesses that can be acquired due to bad judgment, but it's safe to say that cancer isn't one of them. Still, cancer may be the most life-threatening of all the things I've mentioned. It requires the most work to fix it, takes the most time to eliminate, and has taken the greatest toll on my friends and family. If I'm lucky enough to get through it, I will most definitely feel like I've been given another second chance.

It would take me a few minutes to count up all of my second chances, so I don't know what number I'll be on if and when I beat this thing. And I don't want to stop doing exciting things, or having as much fun, but I know that it's time to start being more responsible. There has to come a time when people stop taking so many chances and start acting like adults. I know that after this experience, I want to make sure that my life goes on for a long time, and I don't want to throw it away by doing any of the stupid things I used to do.

I wonder how many more second chances I have left. Cats have nine lives, or so they say, but what's the expression for humans? Maybe "Humans have as many lives as they have, until they have none." But we never know when we have none left.

So, I'll probably calculate my risks a little bit more from now on than I have in the past. I have no way of knowing how many more second chances I have.


  1. Just for the record you got that "No Seatbelt" ticket while sitting in a parking spot.

    Much love and hope.

    You got a LOT to be strong for. Making magic every day even if it's just one word.

    My only question is will you get back on a bike when you beat this?