A Life in 7 minutes

I just saw a video entitled “This is My Story” that really touched me, and wanted to share it with you all.

I happened to stumble upon this video while trying to check my email and was struck by the capacity and sadness of it. The teenager in the video, Ben Breedlove, is telling the story of his life with a dangerous heart condition known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition where the heart has trouble pumping blood.

He tells his story through flashcards.

The video has no sound, and shows Ben smiling at times and somber at others, depending on which flashcard he is holding up. The greatest sadness and weight of this video is felt knowing that the young Ben has now since passed. The video was posted by him on December 18th and he passed away of a heart attack due to his condition on December 25th, Christmas.

In the video he describes the feeling of death three times. In two of the instances Ben tells us that he had an overwhelming feeling of happiness and “peace.” A bright light descending on him both times, and the second time him more entering a dream state or in between death and life experience.

Ben’s brush with death was so transforming for him that he tells us it was “the best feeling” and he “didn’t want to leave that place.”

That he wished he “never woke up.”

Ben’s experiences prepared him for where he was going. He was ready for it. He had been given a gift to have seen that place before going there. A gift that gave him strength, content, and hope for the last of his days.

I tell this story for two reasons: 1) the sense of security and peace that his visions give me regarding my own life and ultimate destination, 2) and for wanting to spread his story to you.

We all hear about these stories where people recount transcending the worlds of life and death, but they never seem to get old for us. Why is that?

I’ll tell you why: Because we are all curious. Ben’s video hasn’t gone viral for no reason. It’s gone viral because we want to know what it’s like, hear someone else tell us. To confirm it for us. His video is a reminder of the other world that we will all someday come to know.

Ben’s experiences were a gift for him, and now they are a gift for us.

Follow the link to check out the video:  “This is my story” by Ben Breedlove


Cold Mountain—Charles Frazier

Cold Mountain (novel)

Image via Wikipedia

I couldn’t be more disappointed by this book. I bought it on the grounds of reading the first couple pages, which I deemed magnificent, and then read 150 more pages to find the novel was quite the opposite.

One word for this novel: BORING.

I hate to say that, but whoa is this book slow. I was really hoping this book would knock me off my feet, especially considering it had one a National Book Award, which in hindsight is completely absurd and scary, but it more just put me to sleep. Each time I picked it up I prayed it would get better, but page after page the plot was nonexistent and the narrative was consumed by useless details.

I’ll give Frazier a star for his ability to describe scenery, but beyond that, there’s nothing else this book offers. It’s literally a story of a man wandering through the woods in the mountains of North Carolina. Come on Frazier! You can do better than that!

Unless you like reading about flowers, trees, streams, grass, and entirely pointless events, don’t read this book.

Sorry. I was pulling for it, but it let me down.

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

Picture from IMDb.com

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is the fourth installment to the Mission Impossible series. Ethan Hunt and his team (Jeremy RennerSimon Pegg, and Paula Patton) are covert and disavowed IMF agents endeavoring to stop a nuclear attack on the United States.

From the beginning it is an action packed technological marvel that maintains its pace throughout the movie.

Ghost Protocol features all the explosions and drama that we would expect from an action movie, along with displays of our world’s technological advancements, such as: gloves that suction to glass, screens that mimic real life, pay phones that turn into IMF portals, and a BMW i8, all that aid Ethan Hunt and his team in trying to prevent a nuclear war.

IMDb gives Ghost Protocol a 7.9 out of 10. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 93% Fresh Certified.

My vote is a 7 out of 10. I like the new technological spy tricks used and much of the filming shots; Ghost Protocol has some awesome camera angles, especially in Dubai when Tom Cruise is hanging out of the Burj Khalifa Tower and a sandstorm is looming in the distance.

However, much of this movie is like any other action movie we have seen recently, with a very typical and cliché plot line: Terrorists have hijacked nuclear codes and are threatening to blow up America. The same ole plot (terrorists threatening America) but with a twist, now the terrorists really do have weapons of mass destruction, but the terrorists aren’t Arabs. How ironic!

For this plot typicalness and similarity to many other present day action movies, I had to knock down Ghost Protocol’s rating. Though I enjoyed the action sequences and inventive camera angles, the writers could have been more original.

TAC Campaign 20th Anniversary Video

I had a powerful video forwarded to me yesterday by my cousin that I think would be prudent for all of us to see, especially during the holidays when so many of us will be traveling and enjoying time with our families.

This video was put together by TAC (Transport Accident Commission), which began airing videos like this one in 1989. Arguably, because of the videos, the number of accidents related to drinking and driving have been substantially reduced.

This video hits a note for me because a couple years ago I had a step sister killed by someone under the influence. She had been walking home from work one day when a drunk driver veered off the road and hit her. It was a horrible tragedy. It tore the family up for a long time.

I’m not trying to be depressing on Christmas Eve, but we all sometimes need to be reminded of the effects our actions have on others.

I know we all want to have fun and make memories, but if you are going to drink, stay where you are or have someone else drive you home. It’s not worth hurting/killing someone. The last thing we all want is something tragic to happen around the holidays.

So if you’ve found your way to this site, and haven’t seen the video, then watch it.

Jane Eyre

The new Jane Eyre directed by Cary Fukunaga is a fantastic rendition of a classic novel for a contemporary audience.

Normally when I watch movies that are traditional depictions of the 1800s or anywhere beyond that, I am lost in their sense and use of language. However, I did not encounter this when I watched Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre. Though it was decorous and accurate of its time, the language and conventions associated with the 1800s were quite easy to assimilate.

With a befitting dosage of taciturnity expressed through body language, music, and scene, Fukunaga transports us to a world we can hardly understand in our present time. A world where women are mere pieces of flesh for bartering and getting things done, and apparently were you can lock your wife in the attic for fifteen years and not get arrested. Romanticism is at its height. And Mia Wasikowska (Jane Eyre) negotiates the screen like a true veteran. Through her simplicity and restrained speech and emotion she carries the movie from its darkest to lightest hours, though of the latter there are not much.

But, don’t think that this is just some archaic tale of feminism. The movie has more to offer than that. Cary Fukunaga’s filming is magnificent and the tale of Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester are no less than enduring.

As well, Fukunaga films the movie brilliantly. Rich colors and wide scenic shots fill the movie and add to its grand gesture of what the culture and history of our past used to look like.

Although the movie may not be able to hold to everything the book accomplishes, what movie can?

Do yourself a favor, rent this movie and watch a spectacular film about the fate of a young woman driven into servitude.

Reflecting On Tribulation

So today, I thought I would do a bit of reflecting.

Not more than two months ago I had a really bad accident. No not a car accident. My accident was falling out of an attic and down two flights of stairs. You see, me and my wife were trying to move storage —take things down and put things up— from our wedding, which had been inhabiting the whole of our second bedroom for months. So, brilliant me, thought I would add more storage space to better accommodate the higher demand for attic storage. However, in the midst of creating this space, I had to balance on the beams of wood that ran across the ceiling.

Well, in an instance, my foot slipped and the rest of me went with it. I fell through the ceiling directly over our staircase and tumbled down the stairs until I reached the second floor living room, where I concluded my descent.

The whole thing happened so quickly.

People have asked me, “Were you scared?” Which always the answer is, “No.” This isn’t me being brave. I wasn’t scared because there wasn’t time to be. There wasn’t time to think, or react, only time to close my eyes and wish for the best.

When I reached the second floor, I felt pain shoot through my arm like I cannot describe. As I sat up, I looked to my left arm and found it hanging limp at my bicep. I started yelling in pure horror as my wife came screaming down the stairs; she had been standing under the stairs leading to the attic and had witnessed everything.

She took one look at my arm and shrieked!

I had sustained a comminuted fracture. A fracture where the bone splits in half and into small fragments.

As I went to get up my arm hung twisted and jiggling at my side. My muscles began to spasm, my heart began to race, my head began to spin, and then, I went into shock.

I can’t remember much after that. I get glimpses of us racing to the hospital and my poor wife crying, nurses asking me questions, an IV going into my arm and pumping large doses of Morphine, but beyond a few scattered images, the incident is like a dream. Only one with a twelve-inch scar down the back of my arm and an X-Ray to prove it.

Here’s the X-Ray:

Heck of a picture right? I’m the new Bionic Man!

The whole idea of having a steel plate drilled into my arm with a crazy amount of screws has taken some getting used to, but I have to say, I’m a lucky guy for not having killed myself seeing from where I fell.

Here’s the hole I made in my third floor ceiling. You can see the attic door next to it; they are almost the same size.

The hole is directly above the staircase which goes to the second floor. I came out of that hole, down and over the railing, slammed into the wall (where I left a nice hole with my head), and finally tumbled down the remainder of the stairs to the second floor. I know this because my wife told me; she was standing beneath the attic door; otherwise, I couldn’t tell you how it happened.

Its been a month and a half since the accident and now I am in physical therapy trying to get my motion and strength back. The doctor says it will be months and months before I am back to normal, but that’s just it, he said “I will be back to normal!” Shocking considering the plate I’m sporting in my arm.

But, nonetheless I am looking at a long road ahead of me to get to that point. I’ll tell you though, I’m starting to feel pretty good gain. I can drive short distances, type, shower, work, go grocery shopping, and be out and about.

Reflecting on this incident scares the hell out of me. It took me a week to even go upstairs after the accident. I surely don’t mean to sound cliché when I say this, but it changed me. I know, I know! Everyone always says that kind of stuff.

But it does.

Once you experience something that could have killed you, life tends to look a bit different.

The accident changed me by giving me focus and patient perseverance. It gave me focus by showing me that none of us know when we are going to die, and we can’t act like we do by taking the opportunities we are given and saying we will do them some other time. And it gave me patient perseverance (and still is giving me) because like the doctor said, it will be months and months before I’m back to normal. I’m an active person. To not be able to workout, run, hike, swim, do yard work and work with my hands, is not an easy thing. But I have to be patient and I have to persevere; otherwise, what’s the point of ever falling?

As humans, we have to let life affect us. We have to let it mold us and teach us. I don’t know about you, but I’m happy to be wiser and smarter than I was when I was fifteen. I’m smarter because life has taught me to be. It has given me hard lessons and light ones. And I guess that’s what this reflection is all about: Realizing that something good came out of something bad and rolling with it.

Rainy Day Go Away

They’re saying it’s supposed to rain off and on for the next four days, straight through Christmas. Oh my! It started raining late last night after a pretty cloudy day and has gone through most of today so far. But, that’s what it does in North Carolina come this time of year. Most of the winter we live in rain and ice. Not too much snow. At least where I live. The Blue Ridge Mountains are another story.

Having grown up in white and cold winters in the North, I miss the snow. When winter comes and the weatherman says there’s going to be a potential for snow, I’m one of the ones who’s praying for it. I love the snow! I love walking in it, driving in it (I know that’s weird), sleighing in it, and especially drinking coffee in it. I love the crispness of the air and the steam that blows from my mouth, and how everything seems to get quiet from the insulation of it, like a recording studio–everything gets absorbed. You smell fire from the hearths of houses carrying in the air. And most of all, when it snows really good, you get to sit home with your family and watch movies all day in your pajamas.

Some of my fondest memories come from when I was a kid in the North and school would get cancelled and my mom would stay home with us and my aunt would bring my cousin over. We would all hang out and watch movies and sleigh and build igloos (the sleighing and igloo part is more me and my cousin). My cousin and I would have snowballs fights with the kids in the neighborhood, each team gathering as many kids as they could from nearby houses then divvying everybody up and going at it. We would build huge forts to protect us. Snowballs flying overhead and exploding on our heads. It was awesome!

However, in North Carolina this is not the way it goes. It snows here about 3-5 times a year, and when I say snow, I mean 3 inches. But it still shuts the whole city down. Crazy huh? The worst is when it ices. One night when I was living in Raleigh an ice storm froze the city like an icicle. I mean everything was petrified frozen. Trees, grass, cars, roads, windows, power lines, heating and A/C units. The scariest part was the power lines. The ice would bring them down or split them from the weight. I remember hearing the ice crack at night during that storm. Everything laid frozen for days, and at night, I laid listening to it crack and pop and fall. Sometimes the pop was so loud you would have thought someone shot a gun.

I sure hope this winter is not like that one. No ice please! Just snow, lots and lots of snow.