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Story Archives

Filtering by Tag: 2017-05-12

Awakening Story

B.J. Miller

By B.J. Miller

We all need a reason to wake up. For me, it was 11,000 volts of electricity. One night, sophomore year of college, a few friends and I were out on the town; one thing led to another, and we decided to climb a parked commuter train. Fun, no? I scurried up the ladder on the back, and when I stood up, whammo!  The current arced to my metal wristwatch, entered my arm, and blew down and out my feet. I lost half of an arm and both legs below the knee. I spent a few months recovering in the St Barnabas burn unit in Livingston, NJ. One day, several weeks in to the affair, it began to snow. I was told it was coming down hard and pretty. Around that time, a friend of mine smuggled a snowball into the burn unit for me. I cannot tell you the rapture I felt. The sensation of coldness on my skin, the miracle of it as I watched it melt to water. In that moment, I was amazed enough to be any part of this planet in this universe that whether I lived or died became irrelevant.

Are you awake—really awake—right now?

B.J. Miller is a pain doctor and the Senior Director and Advocate of Zen Hospice Project.