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Crashing has its Advantages. It changed my life.

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Next thing I knew I was crashing down through a series of shelves. As I painfully thumped on the new linoleum floor, surrounded by hairbrushes and scrunchies, I opened my eyes to behold a suspended ceiling that was now not-quite-so suspended, and a series of fluorescent lights flickering off and on.

All around me I heard obscenities and groans, which I thought could have been my greeting to hell. The construction crew had just finished at the new store. Or they THOUGHT they had just finished, rather. Now it would be a long weekend for them to fix what I had broken in one moment of youthful misjudgment.

I had been at the top step of a 12-foot step ladder, beyond where one was supposed to stand. I had flown into the danger zone. I had overreached.

This happened over 25 years ago. I was installing a public-address system at a new SuperX drugstore. SuperX doesn’t even exist anymore: that’s how long ago it was.

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And despite it seeming like the worst day in my life up to that point, there were wonderful things that came from it:

1. I went out and bought the tools I needed for the job, forever eschewing the image of myself as the rough-and-tumble soundman, tossing cables from tile to tile rather than stringing them through gracefully, taped to the end of an extensible aluminum pole.

2. I learned the importance of staying hydrated. Dehydration causes problems with impulse control and thought patterns. Scary when you think that 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated.

3. I learned not over-reach. Literally, very literally. But also figuratively. The job had been going great up to that point. I wanted to get finished before sundown on Friday. I overreached. Overreaching can be deadly, both literally and figuratively.

But most important, as I drove home westbound along Lincoln Drive in Phoenix in the car that was my father’s Oldsmobile with that evil temptress ladder strapped to its roof, I saw the sun setting behind the White Tanks. It was utterly beautiful.

The ordeal I had just survived–and the ordeals to come in the days that followed–suddenly seemed to mean nothing.

Photo from PentaxForums user Interested_observer

This all has something to do with the debut of my first novel. Check out In the Eye of the Diamond T.