The Gift of Fire

Sometimes somebody tells you something that is so astonishing, you find yourself thinking about days and weeks later- so it was when I shook the wrist of Dan Caro.

I say wrist, because both of Dan’s hands are missing. When he was two years old, he was in a fire that burned eighty percent of his body – his face is scar tissue- and his hands… well – if you were to look at your own hands and draw a line about half an inch above your wrist, that is what he has, anything above that is missing.

But to visit with Dan is to see what is not missing. I said, I” am used to shaking someones hand as a greeting, what should I do?”

He said with a warm Lousiana drawl- “Shake my wrist.”

So I did. I then learned that Dan Caro is an accomplished musician- he is able to play the drums- in fact is a professional jazz drummer in and around New Orleans- a job so competitive that few people could break into it even if they had tons of talent and ten fingers, yet Dan has done it with his wrists alone.

Yes people stop and stare and Dan says with complete assurance and confidence- “What I am on the inside is what matters, not how I look on the outside.”

His voice is soft and his manner unassuming and what he said said after that is what astonished me then and still challenges me now:

He said- “There are no good or bad things that happen- they are just things that happen. It’s how we react to these things that make them good or bad.”

He plays the drums because no other instruments are possible. He plays the drums with passion and drive- first to vent anger at a judgmental world, then to express emotions and engage with other artists, then finally to teach others about courage and love through adversity.

He’s traveled around the world, performed before thousands of people either as a drummer or as a speaker. If you hop on the internet and google Dan Caro- you could probably even watch one of his speeches.

So here’s my question- was the fire that burned 80 percent of his body, permanently scarred his face and destroyed his hands – a bad thing?

He would say no- he would call his autobiography the Gift of Fire. And he would challenge me and perhaps you with this shocking statement which I will once again repeat:

There are no good events, there are no bad events- they are just events- it’s what you do with them that determines whether they are good or bad.