Jay’s note: This week last year I came upon a horrific accident scene that I was certain involved my only son. Shortly after I wrote this someone, I can’t remember who now, said I should revisit it in a year. So here it is. “Personally, I’m going to make a concerted effort to stop taking things for granted. To appreciate life more. To not sweat the small stuff,” was a pledge made in this article. I’ve done OK with that. Certainly not perfect, but the memories of this day are still strong, and many times I’ve found myself getting spooled up over something that doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. I stop, think of the day this happened, and move ahead to focus on what really matters. So read on; think about it. Read some of the comments from others sharing similar stories — and try focusing on what really matters.
You are driving down the freeway at ten o’clock at night. Up ahead you see the flashing lights of multiple emergency vehicles and traffic slows.
“Great, an accident. All I want to do is get home…” you may be thinking.
As you approach the scene, you see a flipped over and mangled car.
A car of the exact make, model and unusual color of what your 19 year old son drives.
By the time you can cross two lanes of traffic and pull over, you are well past the accident scene. So you slam the car into reverse and drive faster in reverse that you’ve ever driven before. You get out of the car and run toward the accident.
The entire time, all sorts of thoughts are exploding in your brain. You’re praying like you never have before. As you get closer to the scene and see that yes, it looks exactly like your son’s car, you practically lose your mind.
Two police officers approach you – you the grown man who has been reduced to a blubbering incoherent pile of goo on the side of the road. Out of breath with your heart pounding you say something to the police. You’re not sure exactly what but it must have been some combination of “my son”, “his car”, and “dead” with a whole lot of “Please God no’s” in there.
The police offer puts his hands on your shoulders and all you hear is, “Your son? No, it’s a girl. It’s a girl’s car. Not your son. Not your son. There was no male in the car.”
“Are you sure?”
A cop walks you back to your car and takes your keys. “You can’t drive like this,” she says. “I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
So you sit in your car on the side of a road, thanking God and Jesus that your son isn’t involved when it hits you that someone’s daughter is lying zipped up in a body bag 50 feet away. How can you be so happy, and so relieved, sitting so close to death? Guilt sets in.
And you really start to think about things.
Lots of things.
I sincerely hope you only have to imagine this scenario, and not actually experience it because believe me, it sucks. I know, because I went through it 20 hours ago.
It still disturbs me greatly.
An experience like this makes you think. It puts a lot of things in perspective. Life is fragile, and short. Too short to go around pissed-off at what really is, in the grand scheme of things, not-so-important. Hell, it’s practically immaterial.
We get mad about lawsuits. We get angry with the NAR. Maybe we’re frustrated by a client or fellow agents that don’t “get it”. We bitch and moan about having to work too hard. We get upset over a stupid social media “debate” at a conference. We yell at our kids, or our spouses. We fuel “blog wars”. We complain about the housing market, and the government, and how things “just aren’t fair.”
We need to stop and think. We need to put things in perspective. Well, at least I do. I can’t tell you what to do.
The bottom line is this: is all this crap really that important? Is it worth expending time, effort and energy?
I had a really shitty experience last night. For about two minutes (that felt more like two hours) I honestly thought my son was dead.
I wept. I cursed. I prayed. I think I might have thrown up. I don’t remember a lot of details as apparently my brain shut down in those adrenaline overdosed moments of shear terror and gut-wrenching panic. Shutting down was an instinctive reaction – and a good thing because I might have just lost my mind if I could remember everything during those moments.
And I felt sorry for myself for having to go through this experience.
Sorry for myself? There are people out there right now who did know and love the young lady in that car last night. Those people are experiencing infinitely more pain than what I went through last night.
They have something to be pissed-off about. They have the right to feel that things “just aren’t fair.”
When you get right down to it, all the trials and tribulations most of us go through on a daily basis are nothing. They are inconsequential. People like the friends and family of the young lady involved in last night’s accident, people like Clint and Angela Miller who are undergoing a torturous battle against testicular cancer, those people have something worthy of complaining about.
I’m not trying to make light of anyone’s personal situation. I know times are tough out there for a lot of folks. I’m just suggesting that when you get upset, when you think the world is against you, when some person, some thing, some situation makes you angry, sad, bitter or hell-bent on vengeance, try taking a step back and putting things in perspective.
Personally, I’m going to make a concerted effort to stop taking things for granted. To appreciate life more. To not sweat the small stuff. I’m not saying that we should all join hands and sing Kumbaya – that’s not realistic, and perhaps not even healthy. It’s OK, good in fact, to be passionate about something. To be emotional. The world would be a pretty boring place if we all agreed with each other and no one voiced their opinions.
Maybe I’m being Pollyannaish, but it does seem like there is a lot of negative energy out there of late, a lot of bitterness, jealousy, and animosity. I know I am guilty as charged.
Perhaps it is time to step back and reassess priorities. Time to appreciate more fully all the goodness that life has to offer. To enjoy time with loved ones, or time alone.
Sitting on the side of the road last night made me think.
Maybe this will make you think a little too…
Photo Credit: “Candle Smoke” by The Ewan on Flickr. CC Licensed.