Chute To Maime, Not To Kill…

Several weeks ago, Karen at Fitness Journey asked me, and several others, to participate in a post she wrote about fitness through different stages of life.  That post, lead to this one.  Thank you Karen, for fueling the fire this week!


Seventeen years ago next week, I experienced two words that would change my life forever; parachute malfunction.

Daily Action; The Methadone For My Existence

Honestly, and with respect to my daughter and my fiancé, when I wake up each morning, they are not my first thought, though they are among my immediate thoughts.  That first though, what I do think in that first moment of consciousness each day is this,

 “What will it be today?” 

As in, what will be my daily action.  Daily action is something I have been practicing since I was 12 years old. 

When I wake I wonder to myself,

“Will it be a run, a hill climb, a paddle of the kayak, strength training, a bike ride with lots of hills, or a session of interval sprints…? ”

Or if it’s a really good day, which combination might it be…?

My second thought is this,

 “How soon can it happen?” 

And it always happens, I just see to it.  It has been this way since my mother escorted me to a local police station when I was 12 years old to sign me up for weight lifting lessons.  The local police volunteered their time to teach kids something positive.  I was immediately hooked.  This stoke expanded a couple years later with Bruce Jenner’s 1976 Olympic success, which spurned me to build a crude decathlon course in my back yard – broom stick pole-vault included.

Daily action is when time stands still for me – when I most believe in God, am most accepting of mankind, and when I  process the complexities of life with my most clear head.  Daily action has been my therapy, my prayer, and my conduit to humanity for 36 years.

Parachute Malfunction Remix

What it should look like...

Ouch.   It wasn’t so much the physical injuries and trauma that changed my life, although there were those.  My skydiving accident most affected my life by fostering a greater appreciation for life itself – daily action included.  

What it probably looked like...

In the weeks after my accident, I began writing what I thought would be a book about the whole ordeal; a humorous treatise on the story behind the accident, and the subsequent recovery process.  I put the book on ice because really,  it sucks.

But on this anniversary of my rapid descent from 3200 feet, I want to share a passage from said sucky book on ice; my first thoughts after I hit the ground and regained consciousness.  I hope you enjoy it. 


From Chapter 7 Of, Gravity Works

 by Roy Cohen



I hit the ground like a just-clobbered Floyd Paterson and rebounded with the approximate coherency of Floyd the barber.  I had two distinct thoughts during my first conscious moment on the ground after my hard landing.  I began picking pieces of the damp soil from between my teeth and my mind focused on an evening news segment I had seen a couple days prior.  It was footage of professional football player, Dennis Byrd, walking with his wife along the rim of their country home outside of Tulsa. 

Byrd, one participant in a brutal collision on the playing field months earlier, amazed the nation after many doctors suggested he would never walk again following that injury.  

“All may not be lost”, I thought to myself as I lay in the dirt, 

“Dennis Byrd suffered a substantial spinal injury and he’s able to walk again.”  

I vowed right then not to let whatever injuries I might have just incurred alter my life.

Simultaneously another thought occurred as I lay face down in the rural field.  It was a thought I had to seriously entertain under the circumstances; I might actually be dead.  I contemplated for a moment that I might not have survived the impact of such a rapid fall.  I began to look for signs of the afterlife which I had heard described so many times on television; the bright light at the end of the tunnel, the faint figure in a flowing garment ready to lead me off, etc. 

Contemplating an ethereal transition, I gazed up and around the field where I had landed hoping to catch a glimpse of St. Peter, or someone like him.  Surely someone would be there to take my bags and show me to my suite. 

However, the first face I saw was that of a cow.  He was mostly white, with a few black spots.  A slow moving pink tongue circled his face like the hands of a caricature watch.  He seemed – intelligent.  This haunted me – an intelligent cow. 

I thought to myself,

“Shit, if I am dead, is this God?  Is God a cow?  Shit.  I can’t believe it – God is a freakin’ Holstein – frick!” 

I began regretting all the cattle tipping I did in college.  If God were really a cow, surely he would not overlook those indiscretions.


A welcome back to Earth committee -- of one...

Things came into focus…

“No” I thought, “there are no cows in heaven.  Cows are in…. in…. in…. Nebraska – yes, in Nebraska. I’m in Nebraska, and I’m still alive!”

Seeing the cow, and picking grains of soil from my mouth confirmed I was still alive and in Nebraska – but there was still the Dennis Byrd issue.  I slowly began to move my feet and bend my knees – they responded, and I was ecstatic.  No wheel chair in my future.  Only then did I attempt to work through the dull pain in my low-back and straighten out my torso… 


The MRI would reveal that my L1 vertebrae, had released itself on its own recognizance from the rest of my spine...

To be continued in a later post – perhaps… 

Seventeen years ago next week, I experienced two words that would change my life forever; parachute malfunction.  I celebrate this anniversary every year by enjoying my daily action – all day long!  Happy anniversary to me on my 17th I Ain’t Dead Yet day!

Be well.  rc


I will be on vacation and away from writing for a couple of weeks — going to the wilds of North Central Nebraska to enjoy good times with friends, and with dictator, Kim Jong Il.  After which, we will kill him and carry his dead body back home in our roof-top carrier. 

Here we are chilin', with Kim Jong Il'n......

Please check in though, as I will be re-posting a couple of gems from the past until I return.

8 responses

  1. Do you or don’t you know:

    1. You are an excellent writer;
    2. Other bloggers that are far worse at writing get legit book contracts;
    3. You should seriously consider publishing your book in some form.

    I had to chuckle about the cow… I would have probably thought the same damn thing!

    Hopefully you’ll share with us how the malfunction happened and what the aftermath was when the others got to the ground. I’m very intrigued.

    Hope you have fun with Kim Jong Il!

  2. I’d read that book Roy! I think you are an excellent writer and have a fascinating story to tell. You were given a second chance at life, it’s only fitting that you should share that story with the masses.

  3. Roy, like I said, the first time I read your fall post, it hit me like a brick. I shared it on my tiny little blog but in hopes that my few readers out there would read it & get inspired because your are an inspiration!!!!

    I LOVE this follow up & that friggin cow!!!! TOO FUNNY & why not try to selll that book. I agree with Bobbie! Market it as a weight loss tool & it will seel! 🙂

    If you are celebrating an anniversary, this is one to celebrate!!!!!!! You are a survivor & winner!

    Enjoy your friends as I know you will & way too funny on the Kim Jong thing!

  4. Bobbie: Thank you very much. Really, I’m just a good mimic. I will probably share the story in sections this year on the blog, but I will do it like the Qur’an; inside out so nobody will understand it 🙂

    Karen: Thank you as well. We all know the saying. “love is sweeter the second time around.” I can honestly say, swap “love” for “life”, and I can vouch…

    Jody: On the actually anniversary of the accident each year, I try to move non-stop from sunrise to sunset. This year it will be a run, weights, a bike ride, a HUGE hill climb, and a lot of food to get me thought it. Oh, and Kim Jong Il is, if he ever does show up, is toast 🙂

  5. You sure have the comedy equals tragedy plus time thing down.

    As well as being an amazing example of the human capacity for exemplary achievement!

    More than proud of you, brother!

  6. Thankfully for us, you lived to see another day and share your wonderful take on fitness and healthy living with us!!! I think you should try to sell your book. Why not?! Great post.

  7. Dr J: Thank you so much. Circumstance is mother, environment my father. Together they have spawned a life of amusement.

    Carla: They book is there – just a matter of having the time and money to get it published. Not sure this one is with the effort and expense, but thank you very very much.

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