Memorial day the time we all give thanks to the veterans who lost their lives so we the people can have the freedoms and the way of life that the United States has to offer.
Last weekend I had a life altering scenario happen to me. One which I learned a lot about myself in a time of utter chaos.
Basically every weekend in the summer I am cheffing it up on the BBQ. Either cooking racks of tasty bourbon soaked smoked ribs, or roasting cauliflower and jerk chickens on a slow cook, so that they fall off the bone.
Like all those other weekends here I am grilling up some delicious food on the barbi. It’s hot out about 84 degrees with about an 80% humidity.
My sister Jessica was marinating a whole bunch of chicken thighs in spices and olive oil. Now. If you cook a lot you know sometimes depending on the oil some have higher or lower heat points. A heat point is basically when the oil starts to burn or smoke, or worse… Combust.
So I check the temp on the grill, a toasty 350 and off we go. I start piling the thighs onto the grill. Before you know it everyones on their as I am taking a call with my buddy and Jiu Jitsu training partner Tim. When the flames on the grill start to get higher, pretty quickly. I quickly get off the phone. I jostle some of the thighs around and the grill obviously didn’t like that. Because now the fire is getting a lot bigger a lot faster.
As I move the thighs, both of my arms get completely singed of all hairs. So now I smell burning chicken and burning hair / flesh. Looking down into the basin of the grill, i notice that it’s not flames but a grease fire and it is growing at a rate I have never had to handle.
I immediately do what any normal red blood american would do and SHUT the lid. This does nothing but to incubate the fire. The temp gauge in literally 2 seconds goes from 300 to 800! Like you mashed the gas on a mustang and that was the odometer registering the influx of gas into all 8 cylinders. I start to panic inside while keeping it together on the outside.
Honestly this is the first time in a while I have had to use my martial arts training. I start to calm my breathing thinking fast. At this point the entire grill is engulfed in flames. The tree behind it I worry is going to catch fire. The grill is close to the wall of my moms house.
Inside about 20 feet inside the building, sits my wife, my sister, my mom, and my 5 month old niece in a carriage. I open the bottom of the grill to see why it’s smoking from UNDER it. Lo and behold flaming oil from the grill is now dripping DIRECTLY onto the FULL propane tank. I realize in my mind this propane tank if it blows up it can take half of the house and the people I love inside in an instant.
Heres where it gets a bit crazy. Flames are coming out of the grill at about 4-5 feet high, the chicken is completely black, the flames are whipping towards the tall very dry tree. Flames are shooting out of the BOTTOM of the grill onto the propane tank, and the NOTORIOUS B.I.G. is playing in the background. Sky’s the limit. I said in my brain. This thing is going to blow up. My first 1 second reaction is to close it and get out of dodge. But then I thought for a second if I move from here everyones going to get hurt.
So. In that second I know this sounds crazy, but I literally said “I am going to miss everyone I love you” because in that second I was prepared to lay down my life for my family. I stayed. Moving the chicken off the grill frantically, I shut the burners, and reached under through the dripping flaming fire to shit the propane tank nozzle. I didn’t get burned!
Mind you this is happening at a speed I could not even tell you but it felt like the matrix bullet time. Everything slowed before my eyes. The smoke was killing my eyes I barely could see, but I kept working. Finally I got one side of the grill to go out, the other side further away from the tank was still raging. The temp gauge didn’t even know what to do at this point, it was so hot you couldn’t even come near it without being burned.
After about what seemed like an eternity I finally got the other side tamed. The chicken was burnt. My arms were burnt and I was shell shocked for a second.
I stepped back to realize that my life could have just ended. Worse off I was going to like I usually do take my phone call and walk away inside. Which would have definitely burnt down the side of my moms house or worse had that propane tank explode.
Thank god nothing worse than some burnt arm hairs, and some trauma happened. But realizing it, I learned 3 very valuable things about myself.
You never know when it’s going to be time, try to live in the moment. Try to love as hard as you can, and laugh harder. Try to be present in whatever you are doing, be it sitting with family, shoveling snow, or meditating on the beach. You can’t get back time so use it wisely.
I learned I will give my life without question if it came down to a scenario where I had to for the greater good of the people I love. This is incredibly powerful. Since this episode I honestly feel different about a lot of things in life. I know my grandfather was watching me during this time. He would have done the same. I know that to protect the people I love I would do anything I must, risk limb or life because that’s what he taught me to do since a young boy. He’s no longer with us in the physical to see me and the man I have grown to be but I think in my heart of hearts he would be proud.
They just are. Real warriors never claim to be such. They are just men and women doing what is necessary when necessary calls. They don’t parade their war machine around. On the contrary they almost never become bravado about their ability.
Speak to any vet that has seen real action. Real warriors who seen what war really looks like do not care to glorify it. Real warriors do what is necessary without a show, without selfies, without posts to get likes, they do it because that’s what supposed to get done.
No one gets a reward for doing what you are supposed to do. I think the idea of being a man these days gets lost in the mental constructs of what others think of you. Doing the good work, is work done right, work done for the greater good, and work done without asking, without reward and without applause.
What traumatic experiences have you had in your life and what have you learned from them?
I want to hear from you.