The Heart of the Matter
March 20, 2011
The Treasure Inside


The following remarkable story is by Joel Metzger, the creator of TreasureInside. It's the story of a major rite of passage in Joel's life -- the time when he was in a terrible car accident and no one thought he would ever recover. But he did. Big time.

Imagine yourself in an unknown, unlit place. You are restless, but unable to move with control; alone, but unaware of what surrounds you.

You have no desire to know where you are. Your concern is of immediate senses. More than the pain you feel, is the intense discomfort you suffer. You try to move to relieve the distress and then move again.

Anyone else would see you are in a hospital bed, bandaged and barely conscious. Tossing. Groaning. A nurse walks in the room. The nurse leaves.

Yet part of you is safe.

This is where I have been. I know only what others have told me -- a late summer night, driving alone down my street, going home, my car passing over a bridge.

I was going 35, the other car 90. The other car jumped the median, flew across the bridge, and collided with me head-on. The other driver was killed instantly, along with his passenger. I was pulled from my car -- broken jaw, lacerations, and severe head trauma.

"An existence without conscious thought" was the best my family was told to hope for.

"The rest of his life in a nursing home ... irreversible brain damage ... never speak again ... no functional activity," doctors said. "Pray for a miracle."

The brain injury would most likely be fatal, coupled with the high fever and brain fluid infection. There was little hope.

Again, imagine.

You are alone, far alone and solitary. There is sadness here with no thought; pure emotion with no concerns.

Here is heartbreak without the story, a single frame from a movie. Far from you is the mass which is your body. The cry from a sad song is heard with no music or lyrics. You are left with only your life's skeleton. The flesh that had filled your moments is gone and you are in a vacuum, unable to think even one comforting thought. Each thing that has given you joy, and all you cared for, has gone, but the caring has not.

Imagine: you are sightless, falling from an airplane. You do not recognize the contents of the large pack on your back. It is heavy and massive. You are far too frightened to wonder.

You are a lone diver, deep in the sea. You are in the black, with no glimmer of light. The ocean's floor stretches without end, and water fills all space. Your depth underwater is not known. Life hangs on a tether stretching to the surface, the thin line carrying air.

You are lowered further into the unknown darkness, leaving the cares and the people who have accompanied you every minute of your life. You cannot cry. Your heart sinks as if weight pressed your chest. Slowly you are dropped to the ocean floor, and there you are deserted.

This is the bedrock, where each person will come, as the movement of life winds down.

Once you were happy that people befriended you. Now you have no company. The people are over there -- far away. You stand alone as if abandoned. But it is not they who leave. It is you. You go where no one can follow. You are alone.

Yet a baseline remains that can never be taken, the common ground of all moments and events. A part of you is safe.

I slowly recovered. The miracle came. After two months, my coma lightened and I drifted in and out of restless dreams. I was flown to another city for rehabilitation and there my earliest memories begin.

Mine is the opportunity that everyone wishes for: "If only I could do it over again knowing what I know now!"

The doctors were wrong. Never speak? No functional activity?

More than ever I talk and function. They said I'd live in a nursing home the rest of my life. Ha! One friend said, about the prognosis, that I would be like a vegetable.

"You're doing better than any broccoli I've seen."

A favorite joke of mine: "You only live once."

Truthful is the sentiment. Ironic is the statement. I have lived twice -- closer than almost anyone to experiencing reincarnation in the same lifetime.

In my life, suddenly, the rug was pulled from beneath me and life was stripped of thought and action. There remained only the necessary: myself alive.

I was without a body I could command, a personality I could call my own, and a memory I could retain.

And all the while, a cord held me. I watched life rebuild someone, myself almost dead, into a real living person, my new self fully whole.

I fell to the bottom where I lay flat, and said, "No one can go lower. From here one can only climb uphill."

As I ascended, I knew this lifeline. Now I have returned.

Once again, imagine yourself: a newcomer to this life, isolated and vulnerable to surroundings. You are exposed, open to harm, yet part of you is safe.

Along with your fragile condition, imagine the vital thread that will continue. You feel its unbroken cord sustaining you. You stand on a foundation of stone, the life in your body, but now without the physical and mental capabilities that were yours.

Still you feel the power that will persist. As you fell, you recognized the massive pack on your back to be a parachute. It broke your fall, letting you down gently.

In place of your identity, you now lie on ground common to all. A bed of rock supports you, warm and smooth. You are able to stand and walk.

Here you go, right to the edge of existence. That thread will follow you to the end, as always. The thread defines safety: that which survives intact.

Now, for all your days, for all you do, for however long you exist, you will know. You are held by life and you are safe. You are safe.

This episode took place many years ago, in 1983. I have recovered fully. Now I am living fully functional (I hope) and making movies for

What a statement of the power of life!

This injury is way behind me, but it speaks a profound message that I clearly hear. I've lived the miracle that doctors talked about. I recovered. A much greater miracle is happening now: I'm alive.

We often overlook the importance of life. Well... at least I overlook it. But I get reminders. This episode was certainly a big reminder, and there is a story behind this one.

Life holds a treasure. Hiding quietly in life's simplicity and beauty, there is a beautiful feeling.

My teacher helps me know this. He guides me and reminds me to stay close to the peace inside of me. Listening to him is another big reminder.

Treasure Inside

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at March 20, 2011 09:45 PM

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