Two years ago today

Hi friends

I am writing on the anniversary of my bike accident. Many of you have offered love, support, and positive energy to me and my family, which is why you are receiving this email.

It’s hard to believe it’s been two years.

As my friend Jon once said “time is weird.”

Here is a short update on my recovery, and a few things I have learned.

My experiences have been life-changing.


Thanks to Jelly Helm for the use of the image above, taken from his thoughtful presentation last week at The Curiosity Club on Joseph Campbell, story, and human adventure.

Two years ago today I was riding my bike to work, as I normally do, when, as best as I can piece together, something caused me to fly over my handlebars and do a face-plant on the pavement. I was wearing a helmet, which probably saved my life.

My next recollection was about two weeks later in the brain injury recovery unit at Providence. Technically I was “awake”—i.e.: out of a coma—before this time, but I don’t remember anything from the emergency room. Apparently my first words were “Oh, shit.”

I am not fully recovered—I’d say I’m 95%. I am told that in the world of Traumatic Brain Injuries, I’m doing great. One thing for certain, TBI is an invisible, long-lasting injury.

The brain is only about three pounds, but it controls a lot of stuff.

Today, I feel like I have a half tank of gas. When the car’s running, everything’s great. It just doesn’t run as long as it used to. I need a lot more sleep. There are other lingering effects (like a lack of feeling on my left side), but I am not complaining. I am very thankful and happy to see each day.

Here are five things I credit with helping me recover as quickly as I have:

1. The strength of my family

2. The excellent medical team and the care i received

3. My good health and focused diet

4. An optimistic attitude

5. The love and support of my friends

I feel very fortunate to be part of such an amazingly supportive community. Your generosity and kind thoughts have truly been a pillar of strength to me.

My bike accident put a process into motion: coma, returning to consciousness, inhabiting a pre-verbal state, & being unable to walk or control my body. My view of the earth, human life, & our role as individuals has changed & deepened. I am still recovering & still exploring new territory.

Here are a few of my thoughts on personal responsibility, mindfulness, and our connectedness to the earth & one another.

Why does it take a near-death experience to comprehend what is important to us?

It’s easy to get busy in the minutiae of our day-to-day lives. This experience has taught me appreciate the effect we have on one another. Let’s celebrate the people in our lives more often.

How we choose to spend & experience our time is up to us. For me there is no such thing as “wasting time.”

Every moment is important. Everything we do matters.

As near as I can tell there are only three guarantees in life:

We are born.

We die.

Things change.

I am trying to embrace uncertainty and to live fully in the miracle of each moment.

About a year ago I was fortunate enough to attend some Dalai Lama events here in Portland. I’ll leave you with his words:

Quality of life is not measured in material things.

Thank you again. I look towards the future.



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5 Responses to Two years ago today

  1. Lucia Harold says:

    So heartening Josh. Love to you all. Xo

  2. Ellie Payton says:

    As I sit here reading this story to my son, Claus, who is in rehab after a TBI (struck by an ambulance mirror while walking in a Northern Michigan blizzard on Feb 21-temporal lobe removed – skull piece still off) I am touched by your message. I read it to Claus and he got emotional. He can’t express much yet, but your words are the encouragement he needed today. We have a very long way to go… Your advice makes sense. Thank you. Ellie

  3. diane armstrong says:

    dear josh-
    you are such an inspiration. your story is a constant reminder how precious life is, and it’s purpose to embrace every moment. i am grateful to know you and to have shared a department with you. keep on doing what you do. you are amazing :)

  4. Jodie Rogers says:

    Josh– we are so grateful that your recovery has been so successful. And thanks for the reminder of how fleeting it all is, and to be grateful for the many wonderful moments–even during tough times. Love to you and T and G.

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