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Power of Ingenuity

November, 1999

November, 1999, LOS ANGELES - Thanks to "Star Trek," a show with its sight set steadfastly on the future, I have come to appreciate the richness and the complexity of the past. Recently I did two Star Trek events that literally transported me into a deeper appreciation of the vast history of human civilization. One was a Star Trek cruise from Los Angeles down the coast of Mexico, sailing through the Panama Canal and across the Caribbean to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The other was a gigantic Star Trek convention in Berlin, Germany.

A cruise may not immediately seem like a journey into times gone by. It's fun, feasting and frolicking as one sails to exotic ports. And a Star Trek cruise is indeed all that. But this one, arranged by Cruise Trek of Agoura Hills, California, was also like a time machine that took me to three different centuries in our past.

One of our ports of call was a sleepy Guatemalan harbor called Puerto Quetzal. A 90-minute jet plane ride away, hidden deep in the dense jungle growth of centuries, is the ruins of the great Mayan civilization of Tikal. I wanted to visit it. But when we boarded our ship, the S.S. Veendam, in Los Angeles, we discovered that this off-ship tour was sold out! It was such a popular tour that the eager beavers had faxed in their reservation requests early and completely bought up all available seats on the jet to the jungle airport. At the welcome reception on board, actor Cecily Adams made an impassioned plea for more people to request the tour so that another plane might be chartered. I was already on the waiting list.

Happily, there were many others who wanted to view the ruins of Tikal and we got the required number to hire another plane. But this one was not a jet. To be charitable, it was a plane that amply qualified to be in a Guatemalan antique museum. But we aren't in Puerto Quetzal every other weekend and if this was our only way to get to Tikal, so be it. We wanted to experience the great Mayan ruins.

We boarded the old plane, our desire to go to Tikal greater than our confidence in the aged aircraft to get us there. As we climbed to cruising altitude, we wondered if there might be an omen in the music that wafted softly from the sound system. It was the theme from "Titanic." After a two-hour test of our nerves, we landed at the jungle airport a bit frazzled but intact and grateful.

Tikal blew away all apprehensions over that flight. It was astounding. Built some 2,500 years ago, central Tikal covers about 6 miles. We were told that there are over 3,000 structures --- temples, palaces, shrines, plazas both large and small, terraces, residences and ball courts all surrounded by a network of causeways. With our limited time, we would be able to see only the highlights.

Looming up out of the tangle of dense jungle growth, awe inspiring in its majesty, stood the ruins of four temple structures. Their bases were not pyramids but steeply slanted stepped shafts that soared up to a terrace in the sky. Imposingly ensconced on top were the ornately carved stone temples of the Mayan high priests. Climbing to the top was, literally, a breath-taking work out. Many in our group didn't even attempt it. Cecily Adams, fit athlete that she is, made it to the top. The view from that spectacular vantage was as breathtaking as the climb. Below was the great central plaza where the ritual ceremonies were held. Across the way were the other temple structures. And surrounding us all was the jungle that had claimed these awesome edifices when the Mayan nation mysteriously vanished long before the coming of the conquistadores. It boggled the mind to realize that this amazing civilization was built without the use of the wheel.

A delicious native lunch was prepared for us at a jungle compound. We could have roamed among the ruins for the rest of the day. But our guide rushed us on. We had to return to the plane, he told us, so that we could take off by three o'clock in order to land at the Puerto Quetzal landing strip while there still was daylight. The reason for the urgency being that the Puerto Quetzal airstrip had no lights for night landings.

We arrived back at the plane with time to spare. But once we were strapped into our seats, the pilot and co-pilot began inspecting the bottom of the ancient instrument panel with flashlights. Then a parade of people in sweat-stained work clothes began shambling up to the cockpit. They peered and tinkered and whispered cryptically among themselves. After a tense half-hour sitting in the tropical heat of an unventilated old plane, we were asked to return to the terminal building. I've never liked the word "terminal" associated with anything to do with flying, but now it was more unnerving than ever.

Riddled with apprehension, we filed back. Some headed straight for the bar and some good Guatemalan beer. Cecily, I discovered, is a woman with a remarkably low threshold of hysteria. She immediately placed a long distance call to her husband Jim back in Los Angeles and began a tear choked "I've always loved you and always will - forever and ever -- " farewell call. I felt more for the poor, hapless man than for Cecily.

Another suspenseful half hour later, a sweaty man came out to tell us that our plane cannot fly but that three small replacement planes were flying out from Guatemala City to take us back to Puerto Quetzal. If Cecily had an ounce of control left, that announcement blew it away. With panic flashing in her eyes, she began pounding on the glass wall of the waiting room. The terminal manager came out and rushed her into his office where she remained for the rest of our tension filled wait. The rest of us merely sat on pins and needles and waited. We had already lost more than an hour of precious daylight. The beer flowed freely as the Guatemalan sun slowly sank toward the jungle tree line.

It was twilight when the first plane arrived. Immediately, a semblance of a queue formed at the door. Through the plate glass window, we saw Cecily being hustled on board the first plane. The door was opened and people began to be let through, slowly and not too methodically, one after the other. Just three people before me, the first plane reached capacity. I didn't make it on to that plane. In a sense, I was kind of glad. When the passengers of one plane get divided up into three small planes, the risks are tripled. And I had an uneasy premonition about the one carrying Cecily.

The second plane landed just as the first was taxiing away. It was old and smaller but it didn't look as decrepit as the big one that brought us here. We boarded quickly and strapped ourselves in as rapidly as we could. But it was already dark as we began our taxi down the primitive runway. Everyone sat silently. But in the tense stillness, I sensed the one question screaming in everyone's mind. How is this plane going to land on an airstrip that has no lights?

The plane strained and heaved trying to lift itself off the runway. It coughed and gasped. I pulled up on my armrest hoping it would help. Just as the plane reached the end of the cracked concrete strip, it lifted off. It continued pulling and flexing, strenuously trying to avoid the treetops. It shuddered, recovered, then trembled wildly. Finally and thankfully, it reached its allowed flying altitude. The plane continued trembling as it droned into the darkened night sky.

Among the many activities on the cruise ship, I had been taking the yoga exercise class. The idea was to achieve inner peace by bringing one's mind and body into harmony with one's environment. If ever I needed peace and harmony with my surrounding, now was it. I closed my eyes and slowly began breathing in and out. I relaxed my mind and tried to become one with the droning, shivering world surrounding me. All of a sudden, that world turned electric white! Everything became a blinding, shocking, blazing whiteness. Was this it? Is this the way it happens? Was this the end? I was petrified. Then just as shockingly, everything turned back to as it had been. I saw the dark outlines of the passengers' heads ahead of me. The heads turned to each other in startled puzzlement. I realized then, that we had just experienced a silent lightening. Suddenly, it happened again. Another flash. An instantaneous splash of blue-white electricity that was gone as quickly as it came. We were flying through a tropical-lightening storm. A few more silent flashes and we were again flying through the ominously unchanging black sky.

After about an hour, I noticed a sprinkle of lights down in the blackness of the landscape below. Then, I noticed a river of moving lights snaking in the darkness. It looked like a road with automobiles. That must be Guatemala City, I thought. It was supposed to be the biggest city in the country and the capital. But it looked merely like a few dots and a squiggle of light. A few moments later, the landscape returned to black again.

The tension began to intensify as we sensed the plane beginning the descent into the darkness below. How is the pilot going to manage the landing without any lights to guide him? Our imaginations went wild as we girded ourselves for a rough landing. Our breaths held tight as the plane descended lower and lower. It was all blackness below. Then, far off in the distance, we saw something mystifying. We could make out what looked like a double row of lights. What was this? We were told that Puerto Quetzal had no landing lights. As we descended lower, we could surely see two distinct rows of lights beckoning us in the dark. Our pilot headed straight for it. Thank god, they had lights after all, we thought. It wasn't until we were almost about to touch down that we noticed that the lights were, in fact, a row of flickering flames. Standing next to the flaming lights, we saw the silhouettes of men carrying arms. With a hard, bone snapping bump, we touched down. We bounced and jounced down a potholed landing strip between the rows of flaming pots. When we finally came to a stop, we saw that the last part of the row of lights was made up of a line up of trucks and jeeps all parked with their headlights on. The Guatemalan authorities had risen to the challenge in a most creative way. They had improvised a primitive landing system by marshalling the Guatemalan armed forces to light fires in coconut shells lined up in a row together with the headlights of military vehicles. Necessity combined with human ingenuity had brought us back to earth, drained and weary but safe.

And dear Cecily. When we got back to the ship, we learned that the first thing she did when she got back on board was to place an international call to her anxiety-riddled husband back in Los Angeles. Their devotion to each other is genuinely touching. Such a contrast to the frazzled woman seated in front of me on the bus back to the ship. "When I get back to our cabin onboard," she groused, "my husband better not be asleep."

It was a nightmare trip back. But Tikal was worth it. In fact, the flight back seemed to underscore what we had seen at Tikal. The same original thinking and resourcefulness that produced the flaming night landing lights, had raised those amazing architectural splendors of Tikal without the use of the wheel. The power of human creativity and inventiveness is the one constant that defines civilizations through the ages. We would soon be experiencing another example of that from another age and another people --Americans with the Panama Canal.

The French tried for twenty years and failed to build a canal across the Isthmus of Panama connecting the Caribbean with the Pacific. Despite their success with the Suez Canal in Egypt, they could not overcome two great adversaries in Panama -- a devastating tropical disease and an awesome mountain range. The disease decimated whole armies of their workers and the earth from the towering mountainside kept caving down into their excavation.

With characteristic bravado, United States President Teddy Roosevelt took over when the French finally gave up. The first task for the Americans was to overcome the killer disease, which they found to be malaria. When they discovered that the carrier was mosquitoes, a massive eradication program was launched. All bodies of water were either drained or disinfected. Then a new, sanitary village was built to house the workers.

The great challenge then became to conquer the formidable barrier mountain range of the Continental Divide. The solution the engineers came up with was ingenious. Rather than digging a cut into the daunting obstacle, their idea instead was to create a lake rising above the mountain range, then lifting the ships up and over the mountain. The solution was as brilliant as the engineering job would be formidable. First, a lake in the sky had to be constructed. Then, a series of locks had to be built to raise the ships up to the man-made lake. Then another set of locks on the opposite side would lower the ships back down to sea level. It was a mind-boggling project. But the Americans did it. The Panama Canal took ten grueling years to build but in August of 1914, the first ship made the virgin crossing. Since then, over 800,000 ships have gone through the waterway. Our passage in October of 1999 was to be one of the last transits under American administration. At midnight, December 31, 1999, the canal is to be handed over to the Panamanian government. President Jimmy Carter, who signed the treaty in 1977, will represent the U.S. at the ceremony. There was a sense of history for all of us on board the S.S. Veendam as we sailed toward our crossing.

We got up bright and early in the morning and crowded onto the decks and other good vantage points. I found a comfortable seat by a panoramic picture window in the Crow's Nest, the topmost cocktail lounge in the ship. In the pale light of dawn, I could see the metropolitan skyline of Panama City in the distant northeastern horizon. We were munching on a breakfast of Panama rolls and coffee by the time we sailed under the massive steel girders of the Bridge of the Americas guarding the entrance to the canal.

Promptly at 7:30 a.m., we entered the first of a series of locks, this one called Miraflore Locks. The water came churning in with massive force as the ship slowly rose up. I marveled at the colossal power of water. Forty-five minutes later, we were sailing out and onto the first of the stepped lakes, Miraflore Lake. Soon we entered the next series of locks, the Pedro Miguel Locks. These locks raised our vessel up to the top level of the system and a great waterway called the Gaillard Cut. This was the part that was the greatest challenge to the builders of the canal - the cut through the rugged mountain range of the Continental Divide. About 8 miles long, it was carved through rock and shale. It was here that the principal excavation was required and here that those devastating slides occurred during construction.

I stepped outside to the deck and gazed out at the semi jungle landscape on each side of the great waterway. The dense tropical air instantly wrapped around me in a sultry embrace. It was awe inspiring to imagine men just a century ago, struggling against this brutal heat, disease and the savagery of the jungle to carve out this massive system of waterways. I marveled at the sheer ingenuity of the engineers. The Panama Canal is a triumph of human will, creativity and determination. It is as incredible an achievement as that of the Mayans centuries ago.

It was lunchtime when we sailed out onto the huge man-made body of water, Gatun Lake, and I was hungry. We had a few hours to go before we would be entering the downhill set of locks. I decided to go down for lunch. The view of the lake from the air-conditioned comfort of the ship's dining room was superb. As I dined on an exquisite lunch of poached sole with baby asparagus, I couldn't help but appreciate the almost surreal world that we inhabited. Certainly, it would have been science fiction to those who had struggled so valiantly to make this fantastical existence so comfortably real for us. Ah, the wondrous rewards of man's ingenuity.

Promptly at 2 p.m., we entered the Gatun Locks, the system lowering our ship down to sea level on the Caribbean side. By sunset, we were again out on the high seas. Our historic 9-hour transit across the Panama Canal was over. On our way back to Ft. Lauderdale, we enjoyed an all-too-brief stop at the charmingly preserved colonial city, Cartagena in Colombia. Like a dream, our two-week floating Star Trek convention was over. But the rich lessons from the past, experienced on this ocean trek, will remain with me for a long time.

Two days after returning from the cruise, I flew off to another Star Trek event -- this one, a land based convention. It, too, was a rich experience in a city dense with history -- the former, and once again, capital of Germany -- Berlin.

The convention, "Galileo 7-III," was gigantic. Over 2,500 fans gathered from throughout Europe and even a few from the U.S. Berlin was the place to be for Star Trek fans that weekend. The huge attendance, however, seemed to overwhelm the management of the convention. There were program delays, interminable lines and confusion. Yet, bless their hearts, the fans' enthusiasm remained unabated. The applause at each program event was thunderous. They reveled in the joy of sharing a weekend with kindred souls. And the convention raised 30 thousand German marks for charity as well.

But what truly impressed me was the city of Berlin itself. Here was a city, mindful of its history, vigorously building a future of unity. At a point in time when Europe is struggling to join eleven nations in an economic union, and when Germany is heroically working to bring together its two parts brutally separated for decades by a political wall, Berlin was building a world city. To accomplish this, the city had gathered some of the best architects from throughout the world. There were dazzling buildings designed by architects from the United States, Italy, Japan, Holland and, of course, Germany. Berlin was the shining symbol of a people confidant of their destiny and building for the next millenium. I sensed it in the spirit of the people. I felt it in the dynamism of the city. I saw it in the architecture of the new buildings.

The most intriguing building was the Jewish Museum by American architect David Leibeskind. The museum was to open in 2000 but I was privileged to tour the completed but empty building. The shape of the zinc-clad, zigzag structure could be seen as a bolt of lightning, a deconstructed Star of David or a sharp, metallic prison. The windows cut into this structure look like slashes, shards or fragments of shattered glass -- jagged reminders from history. The building is entered from an underground tunnel. The sense one gets on entering the slate paved entrance corridor is one of chilly disorientation. The walls are canted. The floor slightly ramped. Other corridors intersect at sharp angles. Nothing is parallel and regular. There are unexpected spatial voids suggesting the absence of a part of the community that once made up the people of Berlin. The design is at once sobering and stunning. But I couldn't help wondering how the building would work as an exhibition space for a museum. How do you hang things on these canted walls? How do you arrange artifact display cases in these oddly formed galleries? How do you keep the architecture from upstaging the exhibits themselves? My questions on the practicality, however, were overwhelmed by my awe of the virtuosity of the architect. The building alone makes the most unforgettable statement on the history of the Jewish people in Berlin. The new Jewish Museum is an eloquent architectural sculpture.

The most exhilarating new symbol in Berlin, for me, is the restored German parliament building, the Reichstag. The architect is Sir Norman Foster. His British citizenship is as symbolic, it seems to me, as his architectural brilliance is world renown. He took the bold, stony Baroque edifice of the Reichstag with all its turbulent history and sensitively restored the shell. In it, he designed a starkly contemporary legislative chamber and offices. The reminder of the past containing the vigor of a modern nation. His most inspired piece of the design however, is the glass dome that he placed right over the legislative chamber. The transparency of government could not have been more clearly communicated. Even more significantly, he designed a bank of elevators that whisk the public - with no admission charge - up to the roof of the building. The view of Berlin from this rooftop terrace is spectacular. From this terrace, Foster designed a spiral ramp in the dome allowing the people to traverse up to the top of the glass structure. From there, the people, not only of Germany but of the world, can look down directly on the lawmakers at work in the legislative chamber below. It is a potent statement about a people's democracy. As I was walking away from this inspiring building, I looked back again to get another perspective on it. Even from a distance, the Reichstag was alive with movement. There was the constant motion of people going up and down on the ramp in the glass dome over the heads of the politicians. What a powerful symbol for the future of democracy.

The gift of Star Trek's incredible popularity has provided me with these undreamed of opportunities to know this world. These experiences have given me a keen appreciation of the inseparable link between our past and our future. The barbarism of man's inhumanity to man reminds us of our terrible fallibility. The extraordinary achievements of our antecedents, their determination against sometimes awesome adversity, their great organizational competence and their creative genius inspires us to face the many challenges that we confront today. The solid launching pad of our future is the confidence we gain from the glorious attainments from history.

People Reveal The Weirdest Thing About Themselves

Reddit user Isitjustmedownhere asked: 'Give an example; how weird are you really?'

Let's get one thing straight: no one is normal. We're all weird in our own ways, and that is actually normal.

Of course, that doesn't mean we don't all have that one strange trait or quirk that outweighs all the other weirdness we possess.

For me, it's the fact that I'm almost 30 years old, and I still have an imaginary friend. Her name is Sarah, she has red hair and green eyes, and I strongly believe that, since I lived in India when I created her and there were no actual people with red hair around, she was based on Daphne Blake from Scooby-Doo.

I also didn't know the name Sarah when I created her, so that came later. I know she's not really there, hence the term 'imaginary friend,' but she's kind of always been around. We all have conversations in our heads; mine are with Sarah. She keeps me on task and efficient.

My mom thinks I'm crazy that I still have an imaginary friend, and writing about her like this makes me think I may actually be crazy, but I don't mind. As I said, we're all weird, and we all have that one trait that outweighs all the other weirdness.

Redditors know this all too well and are eager to share their weird traits.

It all started when Redditor Isitjustmedownhere asked:

"Give an example; how weird are you really?"

Monsters Under My Bed

"My bed doesn't touch any wall."

"Edit: I guess i should clarify im not rich."

– Practical_Eye_3600

"Gosh the monsters can get you from any angle then."

– bikergirlr7

"At first I thought this was a flex on how big your bedroom is, but then I realized you're just a psycho 😁"

– zenOFiniquity8

Can You See Why?

"I bought one of those super-powerful fans to dry a basement carpet. Afterwards, I realized that it can point straight up and that it would be amazing to use on myself post-shower. Now I squeegee my body with my hands, step out of the shower and get blasted by a wide jet of room-temp air. I barely use my towel at all. Wife thinks I'm weird."

– KingBooRadley


"In 1990 when I was 8 years old and bored on a field trip, I saw a black Oldsmobile Cutlass driving down the street on a hot day to where you could see that mirage like distortion from the heat on the road. I took a “snapshot” by blinking my eyes and told myself “I wonder how long I can remember this image” ….well."

– AquamarineCheetah

"Even before smartphones, I always take "snapshots" by blinking my eyes hoping I'll remember every detail so I can draw it when I get home. Unfortunately, I may have taken so much snapshots that I can no longer remember every detail I want to draw."

"Makes me think my "memory is full.""

– Reasonable-Pirate902

Same, Same

"I have eaten the same lunch every day for the past 4 years and I'm not bored yet."

– OhhGoood

"How f**king big was this lunch when you started?"

– notmyrealnam3

Not Sure Who Was Weirder

"Had a line cook that worked for us for 6 months never said much. My sous chef once told him with no context, "Baw wit da baw daw bang daw bang diggy diggy." The guy smiled, left, and never came back."

– Frostygrunt


"I pace around my house for hours listening to music imagining that I have done all the things I simply lack the brain capacity to do, or in some really bizarre scenarios, I can really get immersed in these imaginations sometimes I don't know if this is some form of schizophrenia or what."

– RandomSharinganUser

"I do the same exact thing, sometimes for hours. When I was young it would be a ridiculous amount of time and many years later it’s sort of trickled off into almost nothing (almost). It’s weird but I just thought it’s how my brain processes sh*t."

– Kolkeia

If Only

"Even as an adult I still think that if you are in a car that goes over a cliff; and right as you are about to hit the ground if you jump up you can avoid the damage and will land safely. I know I'm wrong. You shut up. I'm not crying."

– ShotCompetition2593

Pet Food

"As a kid I would snack on my dog's Milkbones."

– drummerskillit

"Haha, I have a clear memory of myself doing this as well. I was around 3 y/o. Needless to say no one was supervising me."

– Isitjustmedownhere

"When I was younger, one of my responsibilities was to feed the pet fish every day. Instead, I would hide under the futon in the spare bedroom and eat the fish food."

– -GateKeep-

My Favorite Subject

"I'm autistic and have always had a thing for insects. My neurotypical best friend and I used to hang out at this local bar to talk to girls, back in the late 90s. One time he claimed that my tendency to circle conversations back to insects was hurting my game. The next time we went to that bar (with a few other friends), he turned and said sternly "No talking about bugs. Or space, or statistics or other bullsh*t but mainly no bugs." I felt like he was losing his mind over nothing."

"It was summer, the bar had its windows open. Our group hit it off with a group of young ladies, We were all chatting and having a good time. I was talking to one of these girls, my buddy was behind her facing away from me talking to a few other people."

"A cloudless sulphur flies in and lands on little thing that holds coasters."

"Cue Jordan Peele sweating gif."

"The girl notices my tension, and asks if I am looking at the leaf. "Actually, that's a lepidoptera called..." I looked at the back of my friend's head, he wasn't looking, "I mean a butterfly..." I poked it and it spread its wings the girl says "oh that's a BUG?!" and I still remember my friend turning around slowly to look at me with chastisement. The ONE thing he told me not to do."

"I was 21, and was completely not aware that I already had a rep for being an oddball. It got worse from there."

– Phormicidae

*Teeth Chatter*

"I bite ice cream sometimes."


"That's how I am with popsicles. My wife shudders every single time."


Never Speak Of This

"I put ice in my milk."


"You should keep that kind of thing to yourself. Even when asked."

– We-R-Doomed

"There's some disturbing sh*t in this thread, but this one takes the cake."

– RatonaMuffin

More Than Super Hearing

"I can hear the television while it's on mute."

– Tira13e

"What does it say to you, child?"

– Mama_Skip


"I put mustard on my omelettes."

– Deleted User


– NotCrustOr-filling

Evened Up

"Whenever I say a word and feel like I used a half of my mouth more than the other half, I have to even it out by saying the word again using the other half of my mouth more. If I don't do it correctly, that can go on forever until I feel it's ok."

"I do it silently so I don't creep people out."

– LesPaltaX

"That sounds like a symptom of OCD (I have it myself). Some people with OCD feel like certain actions have to be balanced (like counting or making sure physical movements are even). You should find a therapist who specializes in OCD, because they can help you."

– MoonlightKayla

I totally have the same need for things to be balanced! Guess I'm weird and a little OCD!

Close up face of a woman in bed, staring into the camera
Photo by Jen Theodore

Experiencing death is a fascinating and frightening idea.

Who doesn't want to know what is waiting for us on the other side?

But so many of us want to know and then come back and live a little longer.

It would be so great to be sure there is something else.

But the whole dying part is not that great, so we'll have to rely on other people's accounts.

Redditor AlaskaStiletto wanted to hear from everyone who has returned to life, so they asked:

"Redditors who have 'died' and come back to life, what did you see?"


Happy Good Vibes GIF by Major League SoccerGiphy

"My dad's heart stopped when he had a heart attack and he had to be brought back to life. He kept the paper copy of the heart monitor which shows he flatlined. He said he felt an overwhelming sensation of peace, like nothing he had felt before."



"I had surgical complications in 2010 that caused a great deal of blood loss. As a result, I had extremely low blood pressure and could barely stay awake. I remember feeling like I was surrounded by loved ones who had passed. They were in a circle around me and I knew they were there to guide me onwards. I told them I was not ready to go because my kids needed me and I came back."

"My nurse later said she was afraid she’d find me dead every time she came into the room."

"It took months, and blood transfusions, but I recovered."


Take Me Back

"Overwhelming peace and happiness. A bright airy and floating feeling. I live a very stressful life. Imagine finding out the person you have had a crush on reveals they have the same feelings for you and then you win the lotto later that day - that was the feeling I had."

"I never feared death afterward and am relieved when I hear of people dying after suffering from an illness."



The Light Minnie GIF by (G)I-DLEGiphy

"I had a heart surgery with near-death experience, for me at least (well the possibility that those effects are caused by morphine is also there) I just saw black and nothing else but it was warm and I had such inner peace, its weird as I sometimes still think about it and wish this feeling of being so light and free again."


This is why I hate surgery.

You just never know.



"More of a near-death experience. I was electrocuted. I felt like I was in a deep hole looking straight up in the sky. My life flashed before me. Felt sad for my family, but I had a deep sense of peace."



"Nursing in the ICU, we’ve had people try to die on us many times during the years, some successfully. One guy stood out to me. His heart stopped. We called a code, are working on him, and suddenly he comes to. We hadn’t vented him yet, so he was able to talk, and he started screaming, 'Don’t let them take me, don’t let them take me, they are coming,' he was scared and yelling."

"Then he yelled a little more, as we tried to calm him down, he screamed, 'No, No,' and gestured towards the end of the bed, and died again. We didn’t get him back. It was seriously creepy. We called his son to tell him the news, and the son said basically, 'Good, he was an SOB.'”



"My sister died and said it was extremely peaceful. She said it was very loud like a train station and lots of talking and she was stuck in this area that was like a curtain with lots of beautiful colors (colors that you don’t see in real life according to her) a man told her 'He was sorry, but she had to go back as it wasn’t her time.'"


"I had a really similar experience except I was in an endless garden with flowers that were colors I had never seen before. It was quiet and peaceful and a woman in a dress looked at me, shook her head, and just said 'Not yet.' As I was coming back, it was extremely loud, like everyone in the world was trying to talk all at once. It was all very disorienting but it changed my perspective on life!"


The Fog

"I was in a gray fog with a girl who looked a lot like a young version of my grandmother (who was still alive) but dressed like a pioneer in the 1800s she didn't say anything but kept pulling me towards an opening in the wall. I kept refusing to go because I was so tired."

"I finally got tired of her nagging and went and that's when I came to. I had bled out during a c-section and my heart could not beat without blood. They had to deliver the baby and sew up the bleeders. refill me with blood before they could restart my heart so, like, at least 12 minutes gone."


Through the Walls

"My spouse was dead for a couple of minutes one miserable night. She maintains that she saw nothing, but only heard people talking about her like through a wall. The only thing she remembers for absolute certain was begging an ER nurse that she didn't want to die."

"She's quite alive and well today."


Well let's all be happy to be alive.

It seems to be all we have.

Man's waist line
Santhosh Vaithiyanathan/Unsplash

Trying to lose weight is a struggle understood by many people regardless of size.

The goal of reaching a healthy weight may seem unattainable, but with diet and exercise, it can pay off through persistence and discipline.

Seeing the pounds gradually drop off can also be a great motivator and incentivize people to stay the course.

Those who've achieved their respective weight goals shared their experiences when Redditor apprenti8455 asked:

"People who lost a lot of weight, what surprises you the most now?"

Redditors didn't see these coming.

Shiver Me Timbers

"I’m always cold now!"

– Telrom_1

"I had a coworker lose over 130 pounds five or six years ago. I’ve never seen him without a jacket on since."

– r7ndom

"140 lbs lost here starting just before COVID, I feel like that little old lady that's always cold, damn this top comment was on point lmao."

– mr_remy

Drawing Concern

"I lost 100 pounds over a year and a half but since I’m old(70’s) it seems few people comment on it because (I think) they think I’m wasting away from some terminal illness."

– dee-fondy

"Congrats on the weight loss! It’s honestly a real accomplishment 🙂"

"Working in oncology, I can never comment on someone’s weight loss unless I specifically know it was on purpose, regardless of their age. I think it kind of ruffles feathers at times, but like I don’t want to congratulate someone for having cancer or something. It’s a weird place to be in."

– LizardofDeath

Unleashing Insults

"I remember when I lost the first big chunk of weight (around 50 lbs) it was like it gave some people license to talk sh*t about the 'old' me. Old coworkers, friends, made a lot of not just negative, but harsh comments about what I used to look like. One person I met after the big loss saw a picture of me prior and said, 'Wow, we wouldn’t even be friends!'”

"It wasn’t extremely common, but I was a little alarmed by some of the attention. My weight has been up and down since then, but every time I gain a little it gets me a little down thinking about those things people said."

– alanamablamaspama

Not Everything Goes After Losing Weight

"The loose skin is a bit unexpected."

– KeltarCentauri

"I haven’t experienced it myself, but surgery to remove skin takes a long time to recover. Longer than bariatric surgery and usually isn’t covered by insurance unless you have both."

– KatMagic1977

"It definitely does take a long time to recover. My Dad dropped a little over 200 pounds a few years back and decided to go through with skin removal surgery to deal with the excess. His procedure was extensive, as in he had skin taken from just about every part of his body excluding his head, and he went through hell for weeks in recovery, and he was bedridden for a lot of it."

– Jaew96

These Redditors shared their pleasantly surprising experiences.


"I can buy clothes in any store I want."

– WaySavvyD

"When I lost weight I was dying to go find cute, smaller clothes and I really struggled. As someone who had always been restricted to one or two stores that catered to plus-sized clothing, a full mall of shops with items in my size was daunting. Too many options and not enough knowledge of brands that were good vs cheap. I usually went home pretty frustrated."

– ganache98012

No More Symptoms

"Lost about 80 pounds in the past year and a half, biggest thing that I’ve noticed that I haven’t seen mentioned on here yet is my acid reflux and heartburn are basically gone. I used to be popping tums every couple hours and now they just sit in the medicine cabinet collecting dust."

– colleennicole93

Expanding Capabilities

"I'm all for not judging people by their appearance and I recognise that there are unhealthy, unachievable beauty standards, but one thing that is undeniable is that I can just do stuff now. Just stamina and flexibility alone are worth it, appearance is tertiary at best."

– Ramblonius

People Change Their Tune

"How much nicer people are to you."

"My feet weren't 'wide' they were 'fat.'"

– LiZZygsu

"Have to agree. Lost 220 lbs, people make eye contact and hold open doors and stuff"

"And on the foot thing, I also lost a full shoe size numerically and also wear regular width now 😅"

– awholedamngarden

It's gonna take some getting used to.

Bones Everywhere

"Having bones. Collarbones, wrist bones, knee bones, hip bones, ribs. I have so many bones sticking out everywhere and it’s weird as hell."

– Princess-Pancake-97

"I noticed the shadow of my ribs the other day and it threw me, there’s a whole skeleton in here."

– bekastrange

Knee Pillow

"Right?! And they’re so … pointy! Now I get why people sleep with pillows between their legs - the knee bones laying on top of each other (side sleeper here) is weird and jarring."

– snic2030

"I lost only 40 pounds within the last year or so. I’m struggling to relate to most of these comments as I feel like I just 'slimmed down' rather than dropped a ton. But wow, the pillow between the knees at night. YES! I can relate to this. I think a lot of my weight was in my thighs. I never needed to do this up until recently."

– Strongbad23

More Mobility

"I’ve lost 100 lbs since 2020. It’s a collection of little things that surprise me. For at least 10 years I couldn’t put on socks, or tie my shoes. I couldn’t bend over and pick something up. I couldn’t climb a ladder to fix something. Simple things like that I can do now that fascinate me."

"Edit: Some additional little things are sitting in a chair with arms, sitting in a booth in a restaurant, being able to shop in a normal store AND not needing to buy the biggest size there, being able to easily wipe my butt, and looking down and being able to see my penis."

– dma1965

People making significant changes, whether for mental or physical health, can surely find a newfound perspective on life.

But they can also discover different issues they never saw coming.

That being said, overcoming any challenge in life is laudable, especially if it leads to gaining confidence and ditching insecurities.