In 2005, a few days before Halloween, I was in an accident. I broke both my arms and sliced open my forehead down to the bone. There was no need for a costume that year: the black sutures on my face were the perfect Frankenstein touch.
I was fortunate enough to have a plastic surgeon stitch me, so today I'm just left with some narrow white scars. I worked on my arms for several months of physical therapy -- today, my arm strength is better than it was before the accident -- weight training, push ups and punching bag workouts help!
I learned a lot from the accident. I learned what it was like to go about in public with a facial disfigurement -- and learned that after a short while, I didn't really care or notice others' reactions. I also gained new understanding of how difficult it is for people with limited dexterity or strength to function in a world filled with recalcitrant doors, screw off tops, and self-pump gas stations. (I couldn't grip for nearly a year.)
But I think the best thing I learned was to push my own comfort zone, to do something each year to extend myself into a new and different task or environment.
In 2006, I traveled to a remote area of Southern Ethiopia only recently open to the wider world.
In 2007, I hiked the notorious Kalalau Trail on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. This was, in fact, an exercise in overcoming the visceral fear of falling that my accident had induced.
In 2008, I learned to shoot action pistol matches at the Babes with Bullets ladies' gun camp in Princeton, Louisiana.