Saturday, November 27, 2010

"Birthday", or A Thanksgiving Close Call

Every once in a while, it's good to take a step back from my life to take a look at everything. It's not meant to "measure my progress"; while I do have some long-term goals, they are either activities that will occur when the opportunity/time arises (like "knit a sock", "travel to Ireland", "learn how to juggle flaming torches", etc.) or desires that will hopefully become reality someday (have kids). I prefer to live by achieving small goals and being flexible to go where life takes me. Still, it's helpful to stand back, see what I've learned from the past, and ponder the path that I'm currently walking. 

Different things trigger these intermittent life-evaluations. The most recent time was elicited from a song. A friend introduced me to a band called The Cruxshadows, which I like very much. Their music videos are a bit disturbing, but I like the style of music and the lyrics a lot. My favorite song that I've heard so far is called "Birthday". Here it is:

"Roll out of bed, look in the mirror
And wonder who you are
Another year has come and gone
Today is your birthday
But it might be the last day of your life
What will you do if tomorrow it's all gone?

You won't be young forever
There's only a fraction to the sum
You won't be young forever
Nor will anyone

Look at your life, who do you want to be before you die?
Look at your life, what do you want to do?
Look at your life, who do you want to be before you die?
Look at your life, you haven't got forever

And tell me what really matters
Is it the money and the fame?
Or how many people might eventually know your name?
But maybe you touch one life
And the world becomes a better place to be
Maybe you give their dreams another day
Another chance to be free

Happy birthday 
Happy birthday

Look at your life, who do you want to be before you die?
Look at your life, what do you want to do?
Look at your life, who do you want to be before you die?
Look at your life, it all comes back to you."

After listening to this song obsessively for a week, I began to think about the words more. Who do I want to be? What do I want to do? I really want to make a difference to people and the world around me. Is my current road allowing me to do that, in whatever capacity I am able? If I lay dying tomorrow, would I think back on my past and wish that I'd done more, or done something differently? 

On the night before Thanksgiving, Chris and I were driving through the steep hills on our way to Cincinnati, with only forty minutes left to our drive, when we were in a car accident. The weather was foggy and wet, which caused a truck driven by two college kids to skid into a guard rail on the side of the highway. They were off to the side of the road, but the truck was facing oncoming traffic. Its lights were on for safety; the kids were standing a little ways in front of their truck on the side waiting for the police. I was driving my car, and saw them in plenty of time to know that I wouldn't hit them; there was a semi-truck in the lane next to me, so I didn't change lanes. But a guy driving a white car came flying down an on-ramp that was right before the broken down truck, so as we were passing the truck, the white car did not merge in front of us or behind us. Instead, it stayed beside us in my blind spot. It plowed into the truck then ricocheted off it into my car. 

After skidding all over the road, I was able to pull off to the side about a hundred yards away. While Chris jumped out of the car to go see what happened to the other people, I had a massive asthma attack (Chris made sure I took my inhaler before he left, don't worry) from fright. It took a little while to get that under control. The police arrived with a clean up crew and a tow truck. Miraculously, there were no injuries aside from a few stiff necks. The truck and the white car were totaled from all the damage. My car suffered some considerable passenger-side damage to the door panel and a few dents to the front right side, but was completely drivable. 

We were the only ones of the party who had all the information we needed for the police, our vehicle registration, insurance paperwork, and licenses. After a long, freezing cold time with the sheriff, who was extremely frustrated with the idiocy of the driver of the white car, we were able to finish our drive to Chris's family. Chris drove; I was too shaky from the stress and asthma medication.

It was certainly a very close call. There are lots of things to be thankful for. The entire accident was not our fault. Nobody was hurt. My car will make it back home (hopefully; we'll see how that goes tomorrow on the drive). It could have been "the last day of my life" as the song said, but it wasn't. 

Throughout this holiday weekend I have been acutely aware of the fact that I am very privileged with my life here. In one of my favorite movies, "The Village", they say a blessing: "We are grateful for the time we have been given." I was able to echo their words many times during this season of thanks.

This morning I woke up in Chris's grandfather's house and looked out the window to see snow falling. If I had died in the car accident, I wouldn't have been able to see my first snow of the winter season. I wouldn't be curled up with Chris on the couch drinking iced tea and knitting, watching football with his family. I wouldn't be hearing the good news of my friend's new guitar that he purchased today (the picture of the guitar he sent by text was exciting; I can't wait to hear it!). There are so many things to be thankful for in life, great and small.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am grateful for the time I have been given. 

1 comment:

  1. Google is finally letting me comment on your blog.

    I am grateful for the time I have been given with you, too! So thankful that you and Chris were okay in the accident.

    I love reading your blogs. You are so articulate and thoughtful. I am proud to be your mom and grateful to be your friend, too :)