TASC List: On the edge of fear

It’s Shark Time again in America. On the Discovery Channel and in the Shark Tank program with emerging entrepreneurs. Along the East Coast the predators looking for a snack have been busy and the summer reruns of Jaws continue to frighten the young and older moviegoers when they consider getting back on their rubber rafts for a tour beyond the breakers.

Here’s the true life experience of an old friend of mine, gaining more widespread interest following the publication this month of his first book. A little background is in order. He was an outstanding high school wrestler, undefeated in college, and a finalist in the national tournament. At the world master level, he was a two-time champion in his weight class.

He had a long and flexible frame for maximum leverage and a tremendously strong grip that garnered him a reputation as a pinner. His opponents entered the matches fully aware of these attributes. And it’s possible that the same traits saved his life. His story made Life magazine and is the only verifiable record of a person whose head and upper torso were fully ingested by an enormous sea creature and survived the attack.

This incident took place off the coast of Panama where medical doctors were enjoying a recreational break of spear fishing from a small boat. Ed was underwater when the attacker struck, with an impact that seemed to him like a hit-run vehicle. He thought for a minute he had been decapitated. Stitches and photos afterward revealed the damage to his head and chest. But fortunately he fought free and arose from the bloody waters.

As a hand surgeon with professional colleagues on board, he made it back to the hospital and a long recovery. His friends are certain that his wrestling skill, his gristly, wiry frame, and his individual courage were all in play. We’d wager that the shark found him too tough a match, and too nasty to swallow.

The survivor moved on to a remarkable career in medicine, medical research, international acclaim, and other world-wide adventures. Even after retirement, he coached high school wrestling in California, lectured and wrote on philosophy, wellness, individual freedom, love for nature and the environment, and reveled in managing his 40 acres in the western uplands.

His life of courage and unbounded spirit touched many others. He was not only an individual muscular and physical force of nature, but a wellspring of confidence and courage-inspiring advice and counsel. He was unfettered by the common bounds and restrictions of standard conventions and practices.  

Much of his amazing life story is released this Shark Week in Reckless But Lucky, available from Amazon. He is Dr. Edward Dawkins, and the book is not only a series of “life on the edge” incidents, but a poetic tribute to the wonders of nature and the splendors of being able to observe them as only a trained scientist might, and a romantic would be inclined.

From the edge of the wrestling mat he was unbeatable; from the depths of the ocean he was the victor over a man-eater; and from the tops of philosophical and actual mountain heights he is worth listening to.

You may find this volume of interest. It might help readers surmount some of their own fears and extend their personal boundaries. It’s a good summer read in a time when monsters still break the surface.

TASC stands for Toward A Stronger Community. Contact: brennerjoe@aol.com