Today was a journey to the past. It was more than a walk down memory lane because I visited the cliff I fell off of 30 years ago. At the age of 8, I fell off an 80 foot cliff, and due to the amnesia I experienced, I don’t remember my life before the accident.
Here is a video I filmed as my wife, Suzanne, and I, along with my parents, Jerry and Denise Simon, visited the cliff and relived that experience from 30 years ago.
I have a few fuzzy recollections of what happened the day I fell off the cliff, but I cannot remember anything before the fall. Here is what I do remember:
This is a photo of the cliff from a distance.
The date was October 15th, 1988. I was 8 years old. We lived in Pleasant View, Utah, where my parents still live today. It was a Saturday – one week to the day after I had been baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Sadly, I don’t remember anything about my baptism because of the fall. My friend, Aaron, and my twin brother, Josh, and I were going exploring up the mountain behind our home. We arrived at our destination. We liked to call the area “Snake Pit” because it was full of snakes and other little creatures – perfect for little boys who loved adventure. Jutting out of the pit was an enormous rock cliff. After playing at the rocky base looking for snakes and other treasures for a while, we decided to hike to the top of the cliff. As little boys seeking a thrill, we decided to race to the top to see who could get there first. Josh and Aaron decided to hike around to the top. I decided to climb the face of the cliff. I climbed most of the way up and was resting on a ledge when I heard voices above me. My twin and our friend had beaten me to the top. They began throwing rocks for fun to see who could throw them farther. I looked up as one of these rocks hit me on the chest and knocked me off the ledge. That is as much as I remember. I was knocked unconscious when I landed. I have been told that our friend ran home to my parents’ house to tell them what had happened. My parents raced up the mountain to come find us. In the meantime, my twin brother, Josh, came down the mountain and found my body. He did not know what to do and sat down beside me. He then lifted my head into his lap and tried to put my head back together. One side of my scalp had been completely ripped open and he was trying to hold the two sides together. To this day, he can’t speak of the experience without tearing up. It was traumatizing, to say the least. He was wearing a yellow shirt that soon became covered with my blood as he tried to hold my head together. He tried to do everything he could think of to try and save me. My mother was the first adult on the site. She thought I was dead and was understandably shocked and hysterical at the scene. It took quite a while for the paramedics to arrive because they had to hike up the hill with their stretcher and climb over various fences along the way. When they arrived they loaded me on the stretcher and carried me down the mountain where they loaded me into an ambulance. The paramedics surmised that I had fallen off the cliff and then bounced off one or two ledges on the way down because my body was bruised and black and blue (from the waist up). Though my body was so badly bruised, I did not have any broken bones. If I had fallen straight down from 80 feet, I believe I most surely would have died on impact. The paramedics continued to work on me when I was in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. I was unconscious through all of this. I do remember opening my eyes in the ambulance and seeing my father sitting above me along with the first responders. It is a split second image I have in my mind where my father, through tears, said everything would be all right before I passed out again. The doctors had to insert 26 staples in my head to keep it together. I do not remember anything about my stay at the hospital at all. I do remember riding in a wheelchair as I was leaving the hospital and having a cast-like bandage on my head. Other than that, I do not remember anything about the fall, my ride to the hospital, or even what happened to me at the hospital. It is all blank, either because of the trauma of the experience or the seriousness of the injury.
After I fell, the doctors told my parents I would recover, but after going home from the hospital I began having seizures over the next few weeks. I returned to the hospital to undergo CAT scans and other tests to see if there was any lasting damage because of the trauma my body had experienced with the fall. It was a long healing process, but I did, indeed, recover. It is a miracle I am alive.
This is a photo of me, 30 years after my fall, sitting at the base of the cliff somewhere near the spot where my body would have landed when I fell in 1988.
This is a photo of me pointing to the top of the cliff from where I fell.
Much of what has motivated me and pushed me forward in life is based on what I tell my children almost daily:
“When we fall down, we GET BACK UP!” If you say the first part to my children, “When we fall down”, they all automatically respond with “WE GET BACK UP!” This encompasses not only physical falls, but mental, emotional, spiritual, financial, and all different kinds of “falls”.
After my fall from the cliff, I resolved that each day would be a new birth for me regardless of how many times I would fall down, both literally and metaphorically. It helped me see that life is precious. It is a gift and should be cherished. It helped me to evaluate my priorities and focus more intently on what matters most. Now, we don’t need to fall off a cliff to get sense knocked into us, but we all need to continually have reminders and even wake up calls that help us refocus our energy into the best life has to offer us.
We all fall down, metaphorically, and make mistakes. We may do poorly on a school or work assignment. As a result, we may feel we don’t measure up. We may feel like failures as parents, and worry that others criticize us. We might feel depressed and even apathetic toward life. At times we may feel unsure, insecure, afraid, and doubt our own abilities, potential, and future. What must happen when we fall down emotionally, spiritually, financially, and even socially? We must GET BACK UP! We can and we must.
Obviously when I climbed the face of that cliff as an eight year old child I did not have any rock climbing experience, I did not have any safety gear or ropes and harnesses, and apparently I did not have any brains to think about the consequences of my decision. I think that is how life can be for each of us at times. We may jump into something without having the needed experience, gear and tools, and even the brains to think about future consequences of our daily decisions. With all of that being said, we know that life brings with it both the ups and the downs. Some are caused by our foolish or unwise decisions, and others come through no fault of our own. It is not what happens to us but what we decide to do each day with the choices that come our way. We all will fall down in life at various times and in various ways. Some may be more traumatic and devastating for us, others won’t. Some of these falls will, if we let them, potentially destroy us because of how we respond to the tragedies. There is good and bad in everything. Did I experience great pain from the fall? Yes. Was I teased and made fun of by school students with the head cast/bandages I had to wear during my second grade year? Yes. Did I lose all of my memories I had made from the previous years because I could no longer remember anything I had done before I was eight? Yes. Am I grateful to be alive after my fall and to have survived something that I most likely could have and should have died from? Yes. But what have I learned?
“When I fall down, I can always GET BACK UP!” I have met individuals who have had similar experiences, but because of their falls or accidents, they became paralyzed or had other serious life altering changes to them physically, mentally, and emotionally as well. Yet through it all, these great men and women live exemplary lives. Some have told me they cannot compare the way they are today with the way they were before their accident because they are two different people. Of course, the ones who are paralyzed or seriously debilitated cannot do what they once could do, but they have learned new skills. They have developed new talents and have become new individuals. They, like I do, see the world anew. They are not any better or worse than they were before, but they, as I have, have determined to see each new day as a fresh start – clean from the imperfections and mistakes of the past. It’s a life changing experience but it changes the way we see the world and the way we treat others.
I personally have learned to continually strive to be my best and do my best. I’m not perfect but I have learned that life is precious and even the perceived imperfections in my life can seem more perfect if I change my perspective and attitude. It’s more than what I can physically see. It has everything to do with what I don’t see, but hope to see and optimistically believe I can see. The fall has changed the way I view problems. It has helped me look at everyone as a powerful force of potential and possibility. I hope to bring out the best in everyone and try to do so because every day is filled with hope and possibility. I have tried not to be too hard on myself when I do fall down in any of the ways I can fall down in life. I know there are times I will struggle and even stumble. I know it is part of life and the stepping stones of success we are searching for in life are also intermixed with steps of failure, weakness, struggles, suffering, pain, and sorrow. These may be setbacks in life, but they can, if we allow them to, become some of our greatest stepping stones toward success. It is not about how we fall, why we fall, or when we fall, it is all about what do after we fall.
“When we fall down, we GET BACK UP!” That is my hope. That is my faith in humanity. Whatever trials we may face today, whatever calamities may come tomorrow, we will know we can have the strength to get back up when life pushes us down.
Have a wonderful day and know that you can do anything you put your mind to. If you fall down in life, know that you can always get back up! We all can!
If you’d like to, you can read an article written about this experience on these news media sites:
Jerald Simon – Music Mentor, piano teacher, author, composer and poet – Founder of Music Motivation® – musicmotivation.com
First and foremost, Jerald is a husband to his beautiful wife, Zanny, and a father to his wonderful children. Jerald Simon is the founder of Music Motivation® (musicmotivation.com), a company he formed to provide music instruction through workshops, giving speeches and seminars, and concerts and performances in the field of music and motivation. He is a composer, author, poet, and Music Mentor/piano teacher (primarily focusing his piano teaching on music theory, improvisation, composition, and arranging). Jerald loves spending time with his wife, Zanny, and their children. In addition, he loves music, teaching, speaking, performing, playing sports, exercising, reading, writing poetry and self help books, and gardening.
Jerald created musicmotivation.com as a resource for piano teachers, piano students, and parents of piano students. In 2008 he began creating his Cool Songs to help teach music theory – the FUN way by putting FUN back into theory FUNdamentals. Jerald has also filmed hundreds of piano lesson video tutorials on his YouTube page (youtube.com/jeraldsimon). He is the author/poet of “The As If Principle” (motivational poetry), and the books “Perceptions, Parables, and Pointers”, “Motivation in a Minute”, and “Who Are You?”. Jerald is also the author of 21 music books from the Music Motivation® Series and has also recorded and produced several albums and singles of original music (available on Pandora, Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, and all online music stores and radio and streaming stations).
Here are some motivational videos I created featuring some of my writings. I hope you enjoy these!
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