You’ll Never Know About the One that Kills You.
“If I felt or heard a thump, I knew I was still alive. I figured I’d never know about the one that killed me.”
This is a quote of my father’s that now adorns a wall within the Australian War Memorial. As I reflected on these words recently, they resonated in a way that they had not done previously. Rather than evoking imagery of Dad rolling in on a target with tracers spitting up at him from the ground below, the words impacted me in a far broader and even more relevant way.
My Dad had always been a fighter – an absolute gentleman but a fighter. From surviving two wars to physically working out on the punching bag in our shed decades later, I never saw him take a backward step. My mother would recall my father physically adjusting the attitude of a foul-mouthed individual on Cooper’s Plains railway station when he had just arrived home from the Korean War. I recall how he stared cancer in the face and went down swinging.
Still, these words on the War Memorial wall transcend physical conflict and remind me of the adversity that we all experience. We all experience the thumps and bumps that life can throw at us but if we hear or feel those impacts, then we are still alive. We are still in a position to fight, rather than fall in a heap.
If we take it one step further, when adversity is less than lethal, it is an opportunity to learn and prepare for the next challenge that comes our way. If we remove the element of surprise from the enemy, then we have neutralised one of their major advantages. Forewarned is forearmed and with a strategic response we can fill the void that panic would otherwise seek to occupy.
Worrying about what may happen achieves nothing. It may not happen, but if it does, worry only causes us to live through it twice. I have found that it is better to reflect on our near-misses and even our direct hits so that we may better prepare for the future. Don’t become bogged down in trepidation, squeeze the juice out of life with a free mind. After all, you’ll probably never know about the one that kills you.