Cold Mountain—Charles Frazier

Cold Mountain (novel)

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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.


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.