Dawn has yet to break and I feel as if I am truly alone as I eagerly await her arrival on this dark and silent morn. As I sit here in the dark trying to find words to express my situation I meander aimlessly through my thoughts as though I might accidentally stumble upon that which I seek, but an(other) accident is precisely what I am trying to avoid.
Some days come and go without but a whisper, while others make such a spectacle of themselves that it is impossible to ignore their arrival, presence or departure. The darkness and silence of this early hour may not be extraordinary, but it is strangely awkward, as if this day has yet to decide whether it will fade calmly into the endless cycle of life or "rage against the dying of the light." Perhaps it is because of what happened on this day last year that I am having such trouble, for to set this morning against the backdrop of its predecessors makes its arrival all the more imposing.
Today is the day of reckoning in my father’s house: On this day, we, as individuals and as a group, are told to offer our case for being written into “the book of life.” By joining together and, simultaneously, retreating to our personal space, the task is first to know, and then to show, that ours is an energy worth sustaining. Last year, in order to delve deeper into my inner being, I charged heedlessly into the mysterious void within and, in my blind scrambling to “know myself,” I crashed violently into the lives of those near and dear to me. In my attempt to better understand who I was, where I was going, why and how I needed to continue, whether on the path which I found myself on or a new one of my design, I set in motion a series of events which made abundantly clear to me that my role in this drama is not entirely inconsequential, albeit only on the limited level of my limited life.

Ah…the dawn is come! As the light creeps steadily across the threshold of my entryway I can see now that this will be a beautiful day. Last year’s bout with introspection was tainted with juvenile and selfish indulgence; this time around (the sun), as I find myself in such a different place—mentally and physically—there is no doubt that the results will be dramatically different, as opposed to merely dramatic, as they were one year ago this day.
I need not revisit the particular goings on of last year’s debacle. I was sustained in my prolonged stillness, not by the light of life that I had hoped to assure myself, but rather by machines of life whose touch I never wanted to have known. I was seeking the reigns of my spiritual half and in that process all but gave up control of my physical being. If I had died before I woke it could have been said that I had already lived, and yet, having been to the edge of death and back, I can see how much more there is before us all.
In the aftermath of my calamity I remained calmly aware of the fact that all which lay ahead of me—from that point forward—would have a new light shed upon it by the specter of that which could have been. While I pursued the age old adage "know theyself" I ran smack into another one, “be grateful for today as tomorrow may never come.” It was thrust upon me with such force that it is impossible to ignore the simple truth that this may be the last day. We can’t go calmly into the dark night. I have no qualms with procrastination, but I have developed on overactive unwillingness to compromise my beliefs, desires and intentions. This has irrevocably changed the way I interact with others, just as it has undoubtedly changed—for better or for worse—how they understand who I am.

Another result of my experience at the end of last year’s Days of Awe is undeniable: I couldn’t care less about what others think of me. Today’s task, however, is not about deciphering what others understand me to be, nor to better know the role that I play in the performance that is life in this plane of existence; I sit here, plodding through the inner workings of my self-awareness, my doubt and my hope, all in pursuit of a truth that has evaded me since I woke in that strange and sterile room last year. "Know thyself."

Unlike last year, when I was surrounded by everyone who loved and cared about me, today I find myself 10,000 miles away from the nearest familiar face. This doesn’t change a thing, though, because even then—as I lay, motionless, in a foreign bed…just as I do today—one great truth remains: No matter where we find ourselves, we are alone in this life. When our last light fades to black the only thing we have that can keep us sound is ourselves. To some this may seem a discouraging reality, but the only thing daunting about the independence implicit within this is the veracity of its responsibility.
Today, exactly one calendar year after my greatest trauma, I am half way around the world, hailed by many as “one lucky guy.” Luck has nothing to do with it! (This is not to say that I am what kept me alive—that would be absurd…but luck?) True, I know of people who had similar things happen in their lives and they are no longer with us because of a similar accident, but that does not excuse me from the inescapable dialectic of cause and consequence. Many people said that I must have had a “guardian angel” watching over me, but that is just a veiled way of saying that something else controls our “fates,” and that the course of my “destiny” is not under my control. Just as I am unwilling to allow anything else to take credit for my successes, so will I forever stand up and claim responsibility for my failures.

       It is impossible to know precisely how that which came before us determines that which stands before us, or to make out from that what will come as its result. It is in that uncertainty—though it may be but the blink of an eye—that we can find our freedom. Sure, there is no denying that equality before the law is nice and justice is wonderful, but it is freedom that is of supreme importance. Freedom, the fundamental feature of human life, that which makes us human, is what guarantees that each new day will be worthy of attention and action, and ensures that each individual in this life is unique and full of promise.
The wake of my accident has shown me that I cannot hide from my mistakes, nor run from the consequences thereof, as it is precisely those things that I have erred in doing which make me who I am. I have also learned that there is nothing meaningless in this life, even if it is frivolous beyond a doubt, for no puzzle is complete with even one piece missing. Mistakes are an essential part of who we are, because it is mistakes that help us form the questions which populate our lives with meaning. I can’t guess at what will follow from this day, but I can deduce from my actions what got me here, and if I want more of the same then I must follow that which has guided me up to now. Does that mean I will unabashedly risk my life in pursuit of knowledge when stagnating contentedly as I was one year ago yesterday? To do that would prove I paid no heed to what there is to be learned from my mistakes. I have fulfilled a dream in the year since that tragic day, which, in a way, transforms that tragedy into a triumph: I sought control though awareness, and now I am aware that I was in control the whole time.
I have said it before, but I need to say again: I am sorry to those who suffered because of my actions. I am also sorry that I cannot promise that I will never wake up in such a condition again, for tomorrow’s script is yet unwritten, but I am no longer the same person, so concerns about that "happening again" are not worthy of serious speculation. Everything I do is done in light of the past, just like you, I hope, and it is that same light which makes the future seem bright. Gloriously bright it is, truly. To my family (and friends): thank you for having had faith in my ability to come back from what happened: without your love and support I may never have achieved anything more.

One last thing I have learned from this whole experience, and the year that followed it, is that, despite the fact that we are ultimately alone in this life, we are nothing without the bonds that tie us together: In the fabric of life we are each our own thread, existing entirely on our own accord when removed from the whole, but it is the knots that bind us which form the whole of our existence, our culture, our world of meaning in a universe of blind being: without each other we are all nothing but useless threads floating in the void, where together we are that richly woven tapestry which keeps us safe and warm in the cold darkness that surrounds us all.

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