Grab life by the scruff of the neck.

It’s been five years today since my accident; mid-afternoon on 7 October 2010 my life changed irrevocably. Elly and I don’t know whether we should commiserate or celebrate. Are we remembering the day I broke my neck, or the day I survived?

I like to think I’m an honest blogger, but like everyone, the truth is I put on a show. I’m reluctant to leave the impression that things are tough, because whiners are boring and sympathy is overrated.

But I will admit I found the recent October long weekend hard. The weather was spectacular and everyone on the east coast of Oz was at the beach. Saturday I moped around the house. Sunday morning I went to church (they had put up with me preaching), before returning to home to brood away the afternoon.  Monday we took the family to the beach. I know I should have been content, enjoying the frolicking of the kids and marvelling at the strangeness of the sea of half naked human bodies, but I couldn’t get past the fact that watching others in the surf, when you can’t join them, is a form of torture.

As I said, whiners are boring.

If the perspective of life post injury allows me to give you some advice, let me commend you to take the opportunities to enjoy life while you can. Don’t waste time in front of the computer, since there’ll be occasion enough for that when decrepitude sets in. Get outside. Climb a mountain.  Surf a wave. Run a marathon. Go camping. Smash a golf ball. Stand up to a bully. Swing on a rope. Jump off a cliff (carefully). Step under a waterfall. Ride a bike. Wrestle the kids. Hug someone you love. Enjoy an orgasm.

As the ancient poet reminds us:

Scale back your long hopes

to a short period. While we
speak, time is envious and

is running away from us.
Seize the day, trusting
little in the future.

Horace, 65 B.C.E.

Or the prophet Isaiah 22:13 (admittedly, taken out of context):

But see, there is joy and revelry,
    eating of meat and drinking of wine!
“Let us eat and drink,” you say,
    “for tomorrow we die!”

Of course there is truth here for me also, and for those of you who find yourself similarly restricted. We can whine by all means, but then let’s move on, because life is too short to waste it complaining. Laugh with a friend. Listen to a symphony. Drink fine wine. Savour an aged whiskey. Read a novel (or my memoir). Play chess with the kids. Tell someone you love them.

Grab life by the scruff of the neck, because it is short, and fragile, and you’d just don’t know which day will be your last.


Shane Clifton, jump off a cliff while you can

About Author

Shane is an ethicist and theologian, Honorary Associate for the Centre of Disability Research and Policy, the University of Sydney, and Assistant Director, Policy, at the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation against People with Disability. Shane is proudly disabled, and an occasional blogger on


  • cleo
    October 9, 2015 at 5:45 am

    Hi Shane,

    A link to your blog showed up in my fb feed (I think you may know my sister) which out of curiosity I followed.

    As both a Christian and an OT I find your blog insightful, honest and encouraging.

    Thank you for taking the time to share your life and your thoughts with others. I took a trip back to your earlier posts in 2011 and was struck by your raw honesty and the power that God has to be heard through your words 4 years after they were written.

    It is inspiring to read your words and about where you are now 5 years after your injury!

    Thank you and God bless you!

    • Shane Clifton
      October 9, 2015 at 7:14 am

      Glad you found me cleo. Ot’s are among my favourite people.

  • Rod
    October 9, 2015 at 10:18 am

    Thanks Shane – a bit of C21st Australian Ecclesiates / Proverbs wisdom. Much appreciated. Your writing and John Goldingay’s Remembering Anne have been very helpful. Need to get your book!

  • Kirsty
    February 29, 2016 at 12:16 pm

    Hi Shane and Elly! Just read your book and want to say a huge thanks for your honesty and your honouring of God in it all. I am a Physio and wife of a church pastor who is now 3 years post C34 spinal injury. We were never planning to have quadriplegia as a member of our family either but are getting used to this unusual “houseguest”. The Lord bless and keep you both.

    • Shane Clifton
      February 29, 2016 at 12:23 pm

      Glad you enjoyed it, Kirsty. it’s a strange thing, publishing a book, because you generally don’t know what people think. if it’s not too cheeky for me to ask, might you be willing to put a brief review on Amazon?

      Three years is still early days – and I can certainly imagine you have your ups and downs. I can understand why you speak about quadriplegia in the third person. It has a life of its own! God bless you and your husband.

  • Kirsty
    March 1, 2016 at 1:57 pm

    Sure – very happy to.


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