by Lance D. Smith
The crash this morning occurred just mere minutes before my arrival. No police or emergency crew had yet arrived. There was an obvious victim, loss of life. I saw an imminence of a person lay intertwined and tangled in the metal as I passed by the wreckage. As traffic resumed normal speed, it was like I was launched to go on about my day. The next moment simply came, however I was still stuck in the previous moment, thinking about the poor man and his family. I wanted to stop as grief struck me, but I wasn't allowed to stay any longer in that moment. An impatient motorist behind me honked his horn for me to move onward. He had somewhere he needed to be and I was holding him up.
I felt for the victim of the wreck and his family. I thought how they probably haven't learned of his fate yet. I was consumed with thinking how this was his last morning to do life. It was his last time to shave, the last time he hugged or kissed his children. He probably packed his lunch as usual, got into his vehicle and drove to work; not suspecting it would be the last time. His mind was probably occupied on the mundane things that distract us all. Maybe he was thinking about his phone bill, or being rushed to get to work. He may have gotten mad as he approached the traffic jam that claimed his life. I wondered this. If any of us could know that today may be our last, how might we live our lives? Would we be empowered and live on "purpose" or would we be paralyzed in fear?
I arrived at work and parked in my usual spot. As I got out and walked my routine walk into the building, the morning was different. I could not help but notice how everyone that passed me seemed to be lost, preoccupied. They seemed to be sleepwalking and were far away from where they stood in that moment. They all seemed to be daydreaming, like they were gazing into a fire. Then I heard two men in a near argument over their political positions as each defended their versions and concepts. One argued the President was right while the other that he was wrong. Then another conversation I tuned in on was whether the Titans faired well in the draft. All of these people were unsettled and near anger, but they were "charged!" I could not help but think back on the victim in the wreckage who had lost his life and now how insignificant all these arguments seem to me right now. I wanted to turn around and walk up to them and say, " Who cares about this, why are you arguing with one another over this stuff? Can you be kind to each other? If you don't enjoy one another's company, walk away. What is the point? Go call your wives and kids and tell them how much you love them! You may have seen them for the last time this very morning. This could be your last conversation ever! Don't you get it! If you died a few moments from now, is this what you would have wanted to spend your last few moments doing? Is this stuff what your life is really about?"
Our lives are right under us, inside of us, not "out there" somewhere that constantly needs tending, battling, fighting, and changing. Each of our moments provides us an opportunity to love, hate, unite, or separate. It's unfortunate how much energy we use to argue and fight over what we think needs changed in order to make it all the way we see it. We waste precious time arguing and faultfinding in trivial things. But if arguing and faultfinding is what someone wants to experience, then so be it. That will be their experience.
But what peace does that create? What real impact does that make? It is like looking in the mirror and arguing with the image to change into what you want it to look like.
When we are upset we blame others for our misery. This isolates us from one another. We erroneously think "they" made me feel what I feel. We forget that we participated in creating what we experience, and we are the ones who experience what we feel internally. Not the other person. We think that we must change them or our external worlds in order to bring peace to our internal worlds. That's backwards! Real peace and joy is created from the "inside out, not outside in."
On the same day one man prays for rain, while another prays for sunshine. How does life accommodate them both? The man who wants the sunshine will argue with the man who prays for rain. He will criticize, humiliate, shame, battle, and isolate him because his needs and desires tell him he is ok. It is not because he is vindictive, but because his identity has been challenged and he needs others to validate and support what he feels and thinks. Deep down he has fears so he takes the road to criticize and belittle outwardly, rather than explore inwardly to see what he can discover about his true self.
I think this is the very reason we have experiences everyday that we don't like. Instead of seeing these opportunities as a time we can grow and reveal a better version of ourselves, we waste time changing the scenery to make our feelings go away. The scenery will change from moment to moment, and does so on its own. It will change, but it will show us the same old thing if we haven't looked inwardly and found our true power that brings about real change.
I hope for the man in the fatal wreck. I hope he really lived his life! I hope he experienced his purpose in being here. I hope his life hadn't been reduced to embed himself in issues over politics, sports, or trivial matters. I hope he didn't hang onto some passing event that was long gone and had little meaning in the end. I hope he didn't waste his time consumed in petty problems, rather than brilliant discoveries. I hope he had a chance to "happen to life," instead of life "happening to him." I hope his obstacles in life didn't steer him off course and left him bitter. I hope he lived his dreams. I hope he was not afraid to express the love that only he could uniquely express. I hope he left his mark, made his ripple and splash in the sea of life.
And finally, I hope he didn't become paralyzed in fear and give up and drown. I hope none of us do.
I think life was meant to be enjoyed, not endured.
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