By Gene Thompson
During the recuperation period that followed the accident, I had plenty of time to think about the experience I had while we sailed across the ravine. I had been married for less than a year, and Salli and I were forced to face the frailty of life. The thought of us being separated through death shocked us. We wanted to live life to the maximum.
We had been fascinated with the books by Carlos Castenada, about his training at the hands of a Yaqui Indian “Man of Knowkedge” named Don Juan. The books had opened our consciousness somewhat and made us realize that there was much about life that we did not understand. While this had only been an idle interest before the accident we now felt an urgency to know more, and perhaps control our own destiny.
Salli had become interested in Transcendental Meditation, and felt that both of us should try it. We took the training and learned their meditation technique. While very limited, the meditation did teach me some much needed mental discipline.
Our goal before the accident was to make our first million before we were thirty-five. I had been out of college for less than two years with a electrical engineering degree and had been working for the USPS as an industrial engineer. Salli sold real estate, had her brokers license, and was planning on taking over the family owned business. We had been investing heavily in real estate, having two houses and an apartment building.
Financially we were in great shape, but the stress was unbearable. I was very aggressive at work, and wanted to make lots of changes. Even though I had been promoted three times in the year and a half that I had worked there, I was frustrated with the bureaucracy, and too immature to deal with others who were set in their ways.
The rental property was a problem. Neither Salli nor I had the discipline required to profitably manage it. Some of our tenants would take advantage of us and we were unable to face these problems and deal with them. Stopping by one day with an attempt to collect some money from a young couple who were four months behind in their rent, I found myself standing in the doorway of their one bedroom apartment. Facing me was a young pregnant woman with a diapered baby in her arms and a toddler crawling around on the floor. She was telling me a story about how she hoped her husband could find some work and then maybe they would be able to pay some of the rent. I had to restrain myself from taking out my wallet and giving her some money. It was obvious to me that I didn’t have the mettle required to profitably manage rental property.
I had occasionally made the suggestion to Salli that we should sell our properties, quit our jobs, and move to the Black Hills of South Dakota. This had been an idle dream of mine and I usually suggested it as a joke. But I suggested it again one day several months after the accident, and to my surprise Salli said “OK”. We looked at each other and we knew that a new course in our life had been set.