Eliot Coleman was alive—that much he was sure of. He lay still and tried to assess the damage—a few broken ribs, some road rash, a concussion, maybe a punctured lung. He glanced down at the IV connected to his arm and then towards the hall in search of someone who could tell him how long he’d be stuck like this.
Coleman was a few months away from starting his final year at Williams. He’d spent the previous twenty-one years in a dizzying state of activity. Hiking, rock climbing, and whitewater kayaking in the summers, skiing and skating in the winters. At Williams, Coleman had the reputation of a daredevil. For him, academics were a sideshow—something to get through but not obsess over.
But now, for the first time in his life, Coleman was bedridden. A few hours earlier, he had crashed his motorcycle, and no amount of trying was going to heal his body anytime soon.
Now a world-renowned farmer and author, who is a favorite of Michael Pollan and Martha Stewart, Coleman traces the origins of his successes to his two-month stay in the hospital. “It wasn’t until after my motorcycle accident when I had time to investigate myself that I said, ‘I’m wasting my time. Why aren’t I using my mind better?’”