The Accidental Avatar

My blog “Why an Avatar” led to several inquiries on what inspired me to start an avatar business … honestly, it was an accident. December 31, 2001 … 3 PM local time … the sun was beginning to set in the woods of northern Wisconsin as I started pulling a large vintage sled up “double dip” hill for one last run down the slopes.  Two six year olds followed in anticipation, and hot cocoa awaited at the nearby cabin.  “Please … can we start a little bit higher??” was the request. I now know this was a precursor to the Jamaican bobsled team training routine many years later. In about ten seconds, my body hurled itself into a maple tree, the sound of a splintered sled being preceded by my wife’s screams – “BAIL OUT!!”  As many a married woman knows, I heard but did not listen to my wife.  The points of impact were multiple and if I ever wondered what broken bones felt like, I now knew.  I should have bled to death, but it wasn’t my time to die, although I often wished I had. Ambulance rides, a flight for life, 3 hospitals … I heard the words but did not grasp the implications.  Amputation.  Wheelchair bound for life.  Too broken to operate on for a few weeks.  Then I saw a face.  “Hi, I’m Dr. B” it said.  He sat next to my gurney.  I asked him if he had looked at my x-rays.  He said he didn’t need to; I looked like the kids he treated in Vietnam, who had stepped on a land mine.  Lucky me, a comedian on New Year’s Day.  He kept staring at me until I finally asked him why.  “I’m looking to see if you have the courage to go through recovery.  I’m a surgeon; I do the cutting but you have to do the healing.”  Dr. B became my surgeon that day, and for many surgeries thereafter.  I owe him my sanity if not my life. It’s been 16 years and I can walk a good distance.  There are no rods or metal implants in me and the TSA machines only detect the errant smartphone in my jacket.  No crutches, canes or wheelchairs.  My body healed itself and became a moving weather barometer! The mind was a different journey.  A photographic memory can be an awful thing in this instance.  I never lost consciousness, except during surgery.  Dr. B says I woke up in the middle of the first one!  December 31, 2001 is etched in my memory, and every day is a reminder.  Trauma of the brain is different … In 2012, Mark Stephen Meadows sailed into my life.  More precisely, he called from a sailboat anchored off the coast of Nicaragua.  “I have a mermaid … and she can talk to you” he said.  The Lord has sent me a beautiful female without legs, thought I, a man who almost lost his.  Thus, my journey began: To build a character who would empathize, listen, and serve people by making them feel special.  My first avatar was named Sophie (designed only from the waist up) and my journey renewed. It would be ironic if William Hurt would be the voice of a male avatar in our movie someday!

Photo by Mantas Hesthaven on Unsplash

Norrie Daroga