“Herman Williams’s story of survival and triumph in the face of repeated medical crises will leave the reader inspired to tackle his or her own life challenges.
Clear! demonstrates that with faith and determination, anything is possible”
– Bill Frist, MD, Former US Senate Majority Leader
“This gripping, inspirational story of the triumph of the human spirit by a superb physician, leader, family man, and healthcare executive reminds in vivid
detail that our lives are never to be taken for granted. A story nothing short of remarkable is characterized by grit, love, perseverance and faith.”
– Wayne J. Riley, MD, MPH, MBA, MACP, President, SUNY Brooklyn Downstate Medical Center, President Emeritus, American College of Physicians
“I had entered the gym on the verge of living my dream. Now I was being wheeled out on a gurney, unconscious, and totally unaware that in one fateful heartbeat — or technically, lack thereof — death had killed my dream.”
Herman J. Williams, MD had it all mapped out and everything neatly in place. He had put in the work, made the right contacts, and nothing was going to stop him from living his dream of becoming an orthopedic surgeon to professional athletes. Nothing, that is, within his control. Then during an innocent pickup basketball game, as he sits on the bench, he suddenly collapses and his heart gives out. No pulse, no breathing, and pupils dilated; is Herman Williams even going to live?
That moment sets the course for the rest of Williams’ life, captured vividly in his book Clear!: Living the Life You Didn’t Dream Of (Atkins & Greenspan Writing.) As Williams recalls his harrowing story in painful and tense detail, readers feel his anxiety from each lonely minute strapped to a hospital bed, to his loss of short-term memory, to every step he later takes while fearful of triggering another attack. That angst and uncertainty are shared with his loving wife Jeannie and the rest of his family.
As if the story of Williams’ physical breakdown, plight and recovery are not enough, amazingly it is only half of it. The subtitle for the book, “Living the Life You Didn’t Dream Of,” refers to how Williams, anchored by his faith in God, catapults to the other side of anguish, puts his initial dreams and the negativity and depression of his situation in the rearview mirror and pursues what he believes was the real reason he was placed on Earth.
BREAKDOWN, RECOVERY AND THE STORY AFTER THE STORY
But that life-changing revelation doesn’t happen right away. It isn’t until later, as he settles into a career as a successful physician executive and consultant guiding hospital operations, that he keels over one morning getting out of bed and knows he is having a stroke. Panic, horror and uncertainty set in again, but he is going to be okay.
“I was 55 years old, and I had survived another catastrophic illness,” he writes. “But this time, I didn’t fling open the doors to the boisterous pity party that I’d been holding inside my head for more than two decades … In that moment, I felt my mind, heart and my spirit all simultaneously open like giant camera shutters, enabling me to see life through an entirely different lens.”
He realized that his mission was to help others who had faced adversity, and even those who hadn’t, understand the countless blessings bestowed on them every day and be able to seize every opportunity presented to them. Williams was about to set out on an “altruistic mission of helping people in ways that I had never imagined.”
Within the book, Williams presents to readers a framework for living and appreciating life, a prescription for “building a better day for yourself, your loved ones and complete strangers to cultivate peace, joy, prosperity and health.” The author goes into great detail to outline the steps of what he’s coined The ABCs of Life and offers exercises with which readers can answer questions about their own goals and situations while starting to build the pieces for a harmonious and gratifying life.
EASY AS ABC?
Some of the ideas are so simple it’s a wonder more people don’t practice them already. It’s easy to be kind to others, for example, in ways that many perhaps take for granted. “It costs nothing to smile,” he notes.
Williams is a gifted writer and communicator. He articulates feelings, insightfully describes medical treatments and procedures for the layperson and shares emotions in a way that totally absorbs readers. From the impact of every painful blow and setback to the compassion, intelligence and gentleness of his message, it’s easy to see how Williams gets readers hooked.
“You are holding in your hands,” the author remarks, “a blueprint for finding purpose in your pain, as well as tools to make a powerful impact on the world, through the simplest interactions with others throughout your day.”
Is there a divine role in all that Williams experienced? He would tell you yes, and who are we to doubt it? The said intervention has allowed him to live a peaceful and meaningful life. It wasn’t the life he dreamed of, but it just so happens to be more important than that. I’m sure readers will agree.
Click here to watch the book trailer for Clear!