23 Years

When I hit ‘post’ on this article it will have been 23 years to the minute since I broke my neck. 276 months. 1200 weeks.

Just before I dived in I looked at my watch: 10:31PM.

Would I go back in time and change that moment?

Over the past 23 years I’ve not only been asked the question repeatedly, but I’ve pondered it many times myself. Most of the time I come up with the same answer, and tonight’s no different.

Steven Webb – a couple years out of hospitalThe problem with going back in time and changing something significant is that we are unaware of what the alternative would be. It would be a complete gamble, not only with my own future but potentially the futures of everyone else I’ve met. Decisions have consequences and they very rarely only involve the person who makes the choice. So maybe I should turn the question around on people and ask them: Would you be happy for me to go back and change your life from that moment too?

We have a tendency to see any alternative as an improvement to where we are currently, but the reality is quite different.
You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from. – Cormac McCarthy

So the answer is no, I wouldn’t change the past. But do I regret that night?

Kembers Guides 013.1That’s slightly more difficult to answer, and I don’t think anybody would believe me if I simply said no. Of course there are times when I regret stupid things I’ve done or said, opportunities that I’ve missed, mistakes I’ve made.

But do I regret breaking my neck? I guess the answer is sometimes. I’m very happy, I love my life and I see things in a positive way. But that doesn’t mean being paralysed doesn’t completely suck at times! To bring it right down to basics, there are things I want to do that I cannot, and it sometimes does get to me. I have learned to deal with it, but life would of course be easier if I was able-bodied.

Whether I have truly accepted myself as a paralysed man won’t be decided for a long time yet, if ever. But when I think about regret, I also think of who I’ve become. I believe I have a big heart. I meditate, practice compassion and do everything I can to understand and help others. It is what I enjoy doing and I’m going to keep doing all I can to get better at it.

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I don’t believe for a moment that I would be the person I am today without the 41 years of life I’ve had so far. I have grown and learnt to be patient, to accept things for what they are and although I might sometimes wish for alterations or improvements, it doesn’t mean I would change my whole life. Breaking my neck wasn’t ‘fate’ but maybe it was exactly what was needed to make me who I am.

My situation isn’t perfect – far from it. But I have yet to meet anybody who has a perfect life. People who seem to have close-to-perfect lives are really just those who make the most of their time, enjoy life and grab the opportunities it presents.

If we can embrace the bad things in our lives and learn to accept that maybe those bad things play the part they need to, then setbacks become the stepping stones towards building the experience and strength of character to face our lives head on and with a smile on our faces! Embrace your whole life, every part of it, and rather than spending your time and energy wishing your past was different, focus on the present and the future.

I’ve spent today thinking about my accident, about life, about what makes me happy and what makes me tick. My life has become very simple. Stay healthy, exercise, meditate, be grateful, listen deeply and take opportunities every day.

I say it often and it’s still true: I really do love my life. But I do wonder what things would be like for me if I’d been at home in bed that Sunday at 10:31PM in 1991.

Posted in Peace of Mind

Steven Webb View posts by Steven Webb

I am a survivor, meditation and mindfulness coach. I have a stepdaughter and live in sunny Cornwall, UK. I broke my neck at the age of 18 which left me paralysed from the chest down with limited our movement.

14 thoughts on “23 Years

  1. Reply
    alana johnson - November 1, 2014

    Steven, you are a true inspiration! I am amazed at how you see life as the blessing it is and are not bitter or angry!

    1. Reply
      Steven Webb - November 3, 2014

      Hi Alana,

      Thank you for the nice comment. I believe what eats most people up is there image of how things should have turned out.


      1. Reply
        Susan Bilger - September 10, 2016

        I agree you are amazing and inspiring. I was injured during surgery almost 10 years ago. I’m in constant pain and can no longer work or play sports but I would not be here at all if I had not had the surgery. So even though parts of my life sucks I’m thankful I am still here & with my family.

        1. Reply
          Steven Webb - September 10, 2016

          Hi Susan, thank you so much for the comment.

          I’m only doing the best with my journey, which seems like exactly the same as you. Kindred spirits, we think the same way.

          Love Steven

  2. Reply
    Anita Trenoweth - February 8, 2015

    I felt really bitter for a while when i broke my back and neck and had the whole why me syndrome and although i live in constant agony i always manage a smile and on down days i sit and i think well it could have been worse at least i can walk and im still here to live another day and most of all my boys keep me going i can remember when you had your accident hun and you have coped really well but i agree with you about not changing things we become totally different people when things happen that are life changing xx

    1. Reply
      Steven Webb - February 9, 2015

      Hi Anita,

      Thank you for the comment. I never knew you broke your back and neck, although you can walk now it must have been quite an ordeal. Yes, when things go bad they do make us grow and become better people. Even if my alternate life turned out okay I think I would have been less compassionate with less empathy and definitely less understanding. These are the things that make people better, and in return make us happier from the inside.


  3. Reply
    Vivien Bruwer - October 14, 2015

    Steven haven’t known you for too long, I follow you on Twitter and Facebook, and your posts are always up my street. I am so glad that I have taken the time to read your story. I am sad about the accident that left you the way you are. One would always want things to be different. But I also believe implicitly that we choose our journeys, long before we are even born. I believe we sit down with councilors and decide exactly what we will be doing in this life. Life afterall is a school for learning. I admire you for having chosen a more difficult journey. Shows you are an advanced Soul. I am glad you are Happy. Glad you have coped, Glad that you can share your story with us. God Bless and be with you always. He is the Alfa and the Omega, aware of everything..

    1. Reply
      Steven Webb - October 14, 2015

      Hi Vivian,

      Thank you for those kind words and introducing me to another perspective of how our lives could be mapped out. What an interesting and thought-provoking profound way of looking at things. We choose our path with councillors, although I don’t think I agree, it is such an interesting concept I cannot simply dismiss it. I’m going to play with it for a while, again thank you so much.

      Blessings and peace, Steven

    2. Reply
      Matt James - May 7, 2016

      I follow Steve on twitter as well and read the odd post of his from time to time as it helps put things into perspective whenever the fear sets in. Hi Steve if you read this : )

      1. Reply
        Steven Webb - May 7, 2016

        Hi Matt,

        Thank you for those kind words. Yes, perspective is everything the higher you climb vertically and the more you grow consciously the more you can see.

        Fear is what closes down perspectives, it drives its own agenda and eventually closes our minds.

        Thank you, Steven

  4. Reply
    Steve Dupont - October 14, 2015

    I follow on Facebook and twitter. When I first started, I admired what you were doing from the confines of a wheel chair, while I was “able bodied ” and miserable, wishing I was doing something else in life.. So you actually helped in me just doing it and win, lose or draw, at LEAST I TRIED.. So Thanks for that! But, through reading your posts and really meditating on what you write, I am also slowly learning to enjoy ALL aspects of life.. I strive to learn more everyday now, and be a better person over all.. Above all else, I will ALWAYS have that, business could fail, Other things can happen, but the person I have become and am becoming, nothing can take away.. While it wasnt just you that helped, you basically got the ball rolling and for that I am grateful.. Thanks for the daily doses of inspiration, this post is one of the very few I commented on. But, You probably reach and help a LOT more people than you could even imagine.


    1. Reply
      Steven Webb - October 14, 2015

      Hi Steve,

      Nice to hear from you. Hope you are well. It’s amazing how much potential we all have inside and when we meet someone or something happens that enables us to use our inner strengths something almost extraordinary happens and we start seeing life differently. I’ve come to realise this is what they mean by being awake, mindfulness and just seeing life for what it is rather than what we want to turn it into to fit our ideals of happiness.

      With kindness, Steven

  5. Reply
    Radha bhavyaa - June 3, 2016

    Hi Steven! I personally believe our sufferings are the source to make a true call and connect with the divine otherwise the common man is busy dealing with his day to day life or being critical of it all! undoubtedly! The universal laws of nature take care of it but the power of faith,prayer,freewill and above all grace is undeniable! It’s Miraculous! Proud to be connected with you! May God give us knowledge and wisdom to see him in ourselves,in others and in the whole existence unconditionally! The divine energy never makes mistakes! We should have unshakable,undying faith in him,what may come!…and then witness his companionship24-7days…it’s worth it !well lived! Content from within!

    1. Reply
      Steven Webb - June 6, 2016

      Hello, thank you for that comment. I totally agree, when we learn to embrace our sufferings we suffer a lot less. Although I am not a believer in a God in the sense of a person. I do believe the universe itself is God, and all that is happening and unfolding is doing so perfectly.


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