The Challengers of the Unknown

I loved comic books as a young boy. One of my favorites was The Challengers of the Unknown. It was about four men who survived a plane crash, decided they were living on borrowed time, and they partnered together to explore unknown phenomena and basically protect mankind. Their uniforms even had small hourglasses on them to remind them that their time on earth was finite. The Challengers, Ace, Red, Prof, and Rocky, had many adventures together but always with a sense of urgency.

For many of us thinking that our time on earth is limited is hard to grasp. We always feel like we have tomorrow. But I have come to embrace the perspective of the Challengers, if for no other reason than I have been given not only a second chance, but a third one as well.

In prior blogs I wrote about my recent health problems. Five years ago I was diagnosed with a benign tumor called a schwannoma that was in my spinal column and was well on the way to parlyzing me, with death to eventually follow, if not removed. Ten months ago I had another benign tumor called a cardiac myxoma that was in the left ventricle of my heart and was impeding my blood flow to the point that I was dying as they wheeled me into surgery. Both tumors were large. The schwannoma was so big that you could not see my spinal column and was only able to be partially removed. I had to have radiation to kill the rest. The myxoma was described as being the size of a baseball and my heart had enlarged to accomodate it.

Both tumors are considered to be rare and to be afflicted with both would certainly qualify as being unlucky. But conversely to have tolerated both of them for as long as I did and have both successfully removed is a stroke of good fortune. In essence I was given a second and third chance on this earth.

At age 51 I know that statisticlly I have less time. In reality as a result of my two brushes with death I know that my number could come up at any time. I used to say that before but now when I say it it truly reasonates. But unlike Ace, Red, Rocky, or Prof I have no intentions of going off to face the realm of the supernatural or extraterrestial. I just have the benefit of looking at things with a different set of eyes.

My wife’s voice sounds a little sweeter. The time spent with my friends and family is more valuable. My children’s smiles and hugs are more precious, and I find that my ego is a little more restrained. The corporate ladder isn’t nearly as important as being able to climb a regular ladder. Maturity and age tend to accomplish these same things but knowing that I still have a chance to live a normal life span and be productive, to have that perspective is a remarkable gift.

I wake each morning determined that before the sun sets I will have done something positive with the day I was given. It might be to call a friend or relative that I haven’t spoken with for awhile, read a book that could aid in my being a better person, making sure I exercise not only to be a healthier person but to be less of a burden to others. I always prayed but now I try to pray more sincerely, and most importantly I try to be as tolerant as any error prone human can be.

So I am ready to face my own challenges that are unknown. Regardless of what lies around the next turn I have no intentions of wasting the second and third chances I was given.

About Merrill Wautlet

I am a finance professional and volunteer coach. I have also served in a leadership role for numerous non-profit and civic organizations. For a complete profile feel free to check me out on Linkedin.
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