Last week I attended a very impressive lecture with an intense personal story. To me it served as a reminder to be even more fully present in the moment. And I left the evening with that resolve.
Within 24 hours I failed utterly.
I had been at my favorite bookstore—celebrating the next step in my book journey with my traditional cup of tea and chocolate cake—when I received a text from my editor: I had to incorporate a few more edits in the next 1-2 hours.
Having finished my chocolate cake, I hopped on my bike and sped home. When I had to turn left to cross the street, I automatically signaled with my left arm, but I was so lost in thought that I forgot to look and check whether the road was actually free…
I crossed the street and in the corner of my eye a car came at me.
I steered right but the car slammed in to me anyway. Everything went by so fast that before I knew it the car stood 20 meters in front of me and I was clutching my arm—reeling with thoughts. I was astounded as to how many thoughts you can have in the flash of a second.
I remember thinking ‘I won’t have a chance to finish my book’. But my guardian angels were working overtime and the overwhelming feeling after being ‘kissed’ by that car were that of relief and gratitude. When I continued my journey home I still thought I had only been hit on my elbow. Once I came home and took off my jacket I felt renewed gratitude for how well I’m looked after. Because when I left the house I felt a nudge to put on a very sturdy coat. And now the edge of my jacket had been sliced off, rather than my entire skin. I was black and blue, but it would have been so much worse if I had biked around in my summer dress like most of the summer.
I sat behind my computer and as the adrenaline weaned off, little by little I became aware of more parts of my body that were hurting, blue and scraped. My entire left flank had been hit. I was barely able to finish my edits (and found lots of mistakes in it two days after).
When I settled on the couch—my left arm still shaking from impact—I realized how much can change in the split of a second. Whether it’s for better or (seemingly) worse, your entire life can be turned upside down within a moment.
So, I was left with a renewed appreciation for life and my health. And it made all the little things I’d been struggling with so completely insignificant. Over and over I replayed hitting that car and my utter astonishment that I got off so light. Had I not stuck out my arm, had I not worn my coat, had I not steered away at the last moment, or had the driver not steered away at her last second either, I would probably not be sitting here writing.
Life is so very precious, and I have so many more things I want to do and see and experience. I feel a renewed gratitude for being able to do just that.
Enjoy your day, enjoy your life, and perhaps take a moment to appreciate what is already there. Even when it is not exactly the way you hoped or thought it was supposed to be.
PPS I am well, my physical therapist fixed most of it, and I am optimistic that soon I’ll be able to sleep on my left side again 😉