I promise myself that I will enjoy every minute of the day that is given me to live. –Thich Nhat Hanh, Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames
Earlier this week, I was in a car accident. I was quite shook up by the experience; however, it was my car, not me, that sustained significant bodily damage. Though I didn’t know it at the time, the other driver would accept full responsibility for the accident.
As I sat staring across the road at the Thai restaurant I had been heading to for lunch, hanging on the phone for an interminable length of time to speak with one or another agent I needed to complete my accident claim, I was building up a nice dose of self-pity. Had I not had enough trials? Crap! Now my car is wrecked, I might find myself physically struggling from effects of the force of the blow to the car, which was powerful enough to deploy the passenger side airbag. No few thoughts about all the traumatic brain injury survivors I have worked with over years came to mind. I love to talk about how I understand that things can change in the blink of an eye. Be grateful for each moment. At that moment, though, I was just shook up and pissed off.
After a while, the tow truck arrived. Out stepped a rather cheerful man, probably in his early 60’s. He chattered away as he processed the tow, and though I tried to be engaging, I don’t think I hear as well under stress as I do under normal conditions. So I smiled. He kept talking and eventually, as I climbed into the cab and we drove off, I began to tune in. Talking about work, and traveling, he turned to stories of how he loves to wake up in the morning and say things like “honey, I am in the mood for some Kansas City barbeque”, and the next thing they know, they’re on a road trip. He talked about a television commercial (which I have not seen) having to do with a paint varnish and Niagara Falls. Or something like that. He told his wife, “they are lying; they cannot stop that river from flowing to do what they say they can do”. Or something like that. J He went on to tell her that he would prove it to her, and besides, he has wanted to visit that part of the country. “You want to drive all the way up there to show me that?” she reportedly replied, which at that point seemed funny to me as I am now aware that they have been together since she was 14 and has likely made quite a few of these road trips by now.
I love to travel. I have traveled quite a bit but there is a very long bucket list awaiting me. I travel light, and have no problem packing a bag and hitting the road with little preparation. So by the time we got to the repair shop, I did not want to get out of the truck. I was thoroughly taken by this charming man telling me stories of adventure and love and a partnership with his wife of 45 years. As it became apparent that it was time to move on, he became very serious, and he said this: I don’t believe in waiting on things. I don’t know if I’ll be here tomorrow. I don’t even buy green bananas. I don’t know if I’ll be around to eat them.
This morning I woke to the memory that on Friday a man walked into an elementary school in Connecticut and massacred 26 children and adults before committing suicide. At this writing, no one knows why he did this, and a whole county is in mourning over the fact of and complexities surrounding the event.
I am filled with grief at the needless loss of life. I am chomping at the bit to see this latest tragedy having some meaning in the form of real movement toward addressing the issues of mental illness and gun control in this country.
I have also decided that from this moment on I will only buy yellow bananas.