(As many in the audience knew, in 1986 Sam was traveling by train to Machu Picchu in Peru when a bomb placed by the Shining Path guerrilla group in the luggage rack above his head exploded. He was left with numerous injuries, including brain damage, a cut artery, and blown-in eardrums and has had many reconstructive surgeries.)
Stephen: “Now that’s after a lot of surgeries…”
Sam: “They kind of left it alone for a long time because they thought I was going to die and didn’t want to waste time on my hand.” … ‘By the time they got to it, it had some kind of a bug in it.’
Sam talks about his surgeries with a surprising candor and sense of humor. When being treated at a teaching hospital in San Antonio, Sam talked about not being able to see much, but could see people’s faces. One student “projectile vomited”. Sam looked up and said “Well, do you think there is anything else you need to learn from this experience?”
From the audience: “What inspired you then and what inspires you today?”
Sam: “…It was a biological imperative it was a force greater than me that kept me alive. There were times where you know I went into these dream states… I knew I was going to a place, where I was going to a place I was dying. And people I knew were around the room, and I would say, in my head, can’t you see me I am leaving? I’m waving. Can’t you see I’m leaving?
Stephen: “We’ve had questions like… What is the meaning of love?
Sam: “That song- ‘Love Hurts’ that’s a start. We did that for a bit.”
Stephen: “What is the meaning of grace?”
Sam: “Well, I don’t know. You know, I think we’re all here. It’s a beautiful night. We’re all healthy. Not one of us is in the emergency room; nobody is bleeding out. See I don’t technically know what the meaning of the word grace means, but, we are here in this beautiful space singing songs to each other and sitting side by side. If that’s not grace I don’t know what is.”
Stephen: “And it’s pretty cool everyone knows the words to the song Ditch.”
Stephen: “That’s Grace. That’s Cool.”
Sam: “Being in the present with us- our friends our family, people we care about. Being in the present, being right here with each other. And when we laugh together, it’s impossible to be in the past or the future.”