"Three years ago, Blake Haxton's battle with necrotizing fasciitis (flesh-eating bacteria) was so serious that his parents were planning his funeral. Doctors at Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center saved Haxton's life. He lost most of both of his legs, but survived—and is now thriving at Ohio State."
His story hits me right in the chest: partly because he's willing and able to share it so well, and partly because he was in Alex's graduating class at Upper Arlington High School. I remember when they called his name at the commencement ceremony while he was in the middle of this ordeal. On a very deep level, we collectively want all children to be healthy and happy and them to make the transition from childhood to adulthood as safely as possible.
Blake's insights resonate deeply, about balancing an awareness of our fragility with our innate capacity for resilience which can be strengthened by cultivating a mature relationship with discomfort.
"In thinking about what got me through my painful times—and there were a lot of them—I realized that as a kid and in high school I was really blessed to play a lot of sports...[like rowing, which is] really hard.
If you want to have any success at it, you've got to be able to push through your own pain barriers. Now I didn't know it until after the fact, but that equipped me to deal with pain when it became not an option, when it was absolutely inevitable. I've got to tell you, there were some days where having had those experiences kept me sane.
So what I'd like to encourage all of you to do is find something to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Believe me, I know that's not an easy thing to do or to want to do, but when the time comes that you have to rely on those things and you have no choice—what literally might be life and death—you can draw on those things to get you through those times."
~ Blake Haxton, from "The Advantage of Adversity, " TEDxOSU