“3 minutes, Kim. 3 minutes.” Standing backstage at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, a mere three minutes from my most important speaking engagement so far, I feel the adrenaline surge forcibly through my veins. Well-timed and now pretty reliable, adrenaline is for me, a life force like none other, igniting ever fiber of my being. I feel so alive as I imagine all the cells within my body light up in chain reaction, ready to go. With my heart racing uncontrollably, I visualize myself sitting anxiously on the swim platform at the stern of the boat, readying myself to slip into the unknown. A leap of faith that is so familiar and exciting, yet tremendously terrifying.
Three days prior, I was given the distinct honor of a private tour of the Farallon Islands. Invited by the lead scientist following the successful completion of my solo swim in August, it was a dream come true. Ordinarily, the only human visitors to the island are a select team of scientists who study the flora and fauna year round. Stepping onto the barren moonscape, I am awe-struck. A chorus of well-fed sea lions barks loudly, as if announcing my arrival. I am home. Touring the Southeast islands with my generous and informative guide, I see a perspective of this sanctuary few will ever have, and I am so grateful. Carefully navigating the rocky narrow path to the lighthouse, I locate the cove where I began my swim nine weeks ago. Still struggling with a persistent disbelief of this achievement, I realize I need to move forward. Intuitively I know that if I admit to this accomplishment, what else does it mean I am capable of achieving for myself? In many ways this is far scarier that the toothiest shark and most venomous jellyfish. Back on the boat, I change into my swimsuit. The buoy in the cove where I started my swim is just 100 yards away, and against the advice of the scientists, I decide I need to swim. Immersing myself in the turbulent yet crystal clear water I look curiously for my pinniped friends. No one is swimming today except me. And I know why. Touching the buoy, I take a moment to look back at the islands and the boat. It is a beautiful sight and a marvelous first stroke forward in this journey.
“Ok Kim, time to go.” Seconds later I am walking out onto the stage in front of an audience of 7000, a vast sea of opinions and expectations that is completely unpredictable, yet thrilling nonetheless. I have no idea what will happen. But I am learning that with bold step forward in my life, the rewards inevitably outweigh the risks. I cannot help but be seduced by the thrill. As the spotlight follows me to center stage, I focus on the first job at hand: not tripping. Taking a moment to breathe, a wave of calmness engulfs my body. “Ladies and gentlemen, the one, the only, Mr. Nick Offerman.”
Eight years ago, as I lay in the intensive care unit of a local hospital, facing the near amputation of my right leg and an unlikely future as able-bodied, I could have never imagined my life as it is today. It has been a long uncertain journey of rehabilitation in every sense of the word, an unpredictable exploration of my true Self. And finally today, I now know - more than ever before - where I am headed. As my Mum always says, “If you’re going to dream, you might as well dream big….”