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  • James McPartland

A Life Lesson on Awareness (Part 2)

“Life lessons repeat until they sink in deep, even if you think you’ve already learned them.”

- James McPartland



Last week, I shared about the power of awareness. And how that power is reinforced in painful ways.


I got the message from a painful boogie board accident. It reminded me of some of the routines and rituals that made a fundamental difference in my life, which also helped shape the lives of people that we get to spend a lot of time with.


I was pretty sure I got the lesson. But I don't think I did! A torn muscle, nerve damage, gash on the forehead, and a few other bumps screamed: “Pay attention!”

I was offered a muscle relaxant and an anti-inflammatory to help me deal with a pretty intense pain that lasted days before it started to dissipate. I'd have done anything to get away from the intense pain so I went ahead and used the medication prescribed. (This is coming from a guy who doesn’t even take aspirin!)


So, I broke my own rules, took the medication, thinking to myself, “This will help”...

Meanwhile, a client had flown across the country to see me, with the promise that we would head out on a bike ride together. We both enjoy the activity, and what a great way to experience California, and I can show him a route I love and have a conversation...


I was feeling a little bit of brain fog. A little bit of fatigue. But hey, it's a bike ride! I’m pretty sure we can do this...


So we head out with the wind at our back, and we go fast! We follow the same route on the way back, only this time, against the wind. Needless to say, the ride’s a bit more difficult. We come to a fork in the road and as Yogi Bear has said before when you come to that fork in the road, “take it”!


I took the fork that I had taken thousands of times before, while my colleague thought another direction might be a quicker route to the road ahead. He took a right as I went left, and short story, T-Bone!


Where did I land? Hard... on the same shoulder I did damage to boogie boarding just a few days prior, I slid my head across the pavement on the same spot that got banged around on the ocean floor not too many days before.


At least this time I had a helmet on…


To say I was dazed would be an understatement. I had a white jersey on that became

somewhat red. Appreciating my colleague’s sense of panic, he put the chain back on the bike, fixed the handlebars, and we rode on. Even though it was painful, it wasn't as painful as if I had just sat there. Moving on somehow alleviated the pain.


Ten miles down the road I said, “Okay, my friend, I need to stop for a few moments.” “I’ll get some water, maybe a snack.” “Let me stretch out.”


I'm feeling a bit better and yet my heart rate suddenly accelerates out of nowhere! It accelerates 60 or 80 beats above normal. I was lying on the ground and it took 40 minutes to come back down.


Reason for concern? Perhaps...


When my heart rate came back down, I sent this gentleman on his way so he could go and make it to his scheduled appointments. I continued stretching out and suddenly felt something on the side of my body snap.


It turns out, I cracked a rib. It was pretty painful. Riding a bicycle and breathing heavily doesn't make it feel any better. But I was able to struggle my way back to the home base. As I rode, I thought to myself, “Okay, did this really just happen again? I just landed on this same shoulder! Just banged up this same spot on my head...”


I realized, “Okay, there's something I'm supposed to learn here that I’ve not learned.”


I googled the medications and found out that one should not be operating moving vehicles - bicycles fall into that category. Brain fog is likely to occur as well as heart palpitations, incidents of heart attack and stroke.


Wish I had educated myself on that ahead of time.


What did I learn? Maybe some of my fundamentals and non-negotiables were put in place for a reason.


What did I learn? My awareness and practice of my morning routines and rituals, how I end the day, are pretty important.


What did I learn? Life lessons tend to repeat until they sink in deep, even when I think I’ve already learned them.


I still have a lot to be grateful for. In a world with Covid on its mind, health is everything. As I now go through the journey of physical therapy, not being able to ride my bicycle, swim, or go running, I’ve had some time to spend with myself, and it’s had me pull back and think:


Am I spending major time on major things?

Am I focused on the highest priorities?

Am I leading by my actions and not by my words?

Am I present for my family and other things that I'm missing?

Do I have a blind spot on or am I pretending not to know?


I must have needed to go through it twice for the lesson to finally sink in.


I will continue to tell you what I've learned to reinforce it. And if I've still not learned the message, I'll let you know.


But I think I have. Awareness is everything.


Thanks for letting me share, friends.