Biff America: Seize the day with power tools
Vail, CO Colorado
The running chainsaw missed my groin by inches.
(It’s funny. After almost 30 years of writing for TV, radio and newspapers I think that is the first time I’ve ever typed those word in that order.)
It has been my experience that while good things seem to take an agonizing amount of time to occur, bad stuff happens in a blink of any eye – much like the encounter between the running chainsaw and my groin.
My mate and I were helping to clear some pine-beetle deadfall from a friend’s property. Ellen was using a hand saw to de-limb fallen pines while I was chain sawing them into sections small enough to stack.
I must say I was feeling rather manly, which is ironic considering what was about to happen. I was standing on a pile of rocks in order to get a good vantage point to cut through a large fallen tree – almost three feet across. Just before I was to complete the incision, some of the rocks I was standing on rolled out from underneath me and I staggered backwards trying to maintain my balance.
After a few stumbling steps my foot caught on a branch and I began to fall backwards.
By now the chainsaw was in one hand swinging wildly as I teetered backwards towards another pile of rocks. Though it all was happening quickly, I had the presence of mind to realize that if I fell hard with a running chainsaw in my arms my mate would really be mad at me for possibly ruining our plans for a fall vacation.
This fear of disappointing my wife, and perhaps severing a part of me she has gotten used to over the years, was motivation enough for me to try to put some space between the chainsaw and myself. So, as I was falling, I threw the saw aside.
I hit the ground hard – on my back, head lower than my feet, legs splayed.
I know I said earlier that bad things usually happen quickly. What happened next was certainly bad but it seemed (at least in my mind) to occur in slow motion. Perhaps this is due to the fact that in retrospect we have a luxury of reflection – or maybe time does in fact slow down just before you are about to be castrated.
After I pitched the chainsaw, it landed on its handle, blade facing up – still running – and seemed to balance there. This in itself would normally be an interesting bit of physics to observe. I mean how often do you see a power tool perched on its edge, motionless and still running? However I was not able to enjoy the kinetic anomaly because the running chainsaw was balanced between my splayed legs.
I watched as the chainsaw began to tip towards my body. The danger became clear to me and I scrambled backwards as quickly as I was able. It was just enough. The blade came to rest about four inches from my legs, hit the dirt hard and stopped running.
I learned later from a doctor that, very close to the area of which I was most concerned, lies my femoral artery, which is another part of the body you don’t want a hole in.
The good news is neither my groin, arteries nor chainsaw were damaged. I am happy to report all have performed admirably since that accident.
But it brings me back to my original point – good stuff does happen slowly and bad stuff in the blink of an eye. This summer has been particularly bad in my circle of friends, being that we have lost an inordinate amount of friends and family. That and the chainsaw incident once again have reminded me to seize the day, relish those I love and remember life is a gift.
When you’re reminded that, in an instant, your life can be inextricably altered, it makes you want to appreciate every sunset, relationship and bike ride. Nothing is forever and there are no guarantees, so enjoy your time, passions, arteries and groin while all are still working – and certainly it helps to have a willing partner.
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be seen on RSN TV and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Biff’s book “Steep, Deep and Dyslexic” is available from local book stores or from http://www.webersbooks.com