I was recently in, what I would call a minor car accident. Me, my father, mother, sister, and baby niece were in my parent’s car sitting at a stoplight. Without warning, a car slammed into the back of ours. The collusion launched us up and into the car in front or us. I remember the sounds, the screams, and my crying baby niece. I also remember feeling scared for whoever was in the car that hit ours. It was perhaps the scariest moment of my life. Growing up I never took much thought to relatives and friends who had died in car accidents. I was there to morn with family and friends, to be a comfort, and find comfort myself. I heard countless stories from others about fatal and accidental deaths. But it wasn’t until I experienced an even minor accident, that I began to think about “it”—the fragility of life.
This thought came to me moments after I got out of the car. As I rushed to the car of the lady who hit us the thought came, “what if she is dead?” “Would I be able to handle seeing someone dead or dying in my presence?” You see; I firmly believe there are situations we have no control over. Like in this situation, never, could I have imagined, that I would be in a car accident while sitting at a stoplight. Even more, I had no control over whether or not this person would be okay. And I wasn’t prepared to see that. Thankfully, she was in fact okay, and escaped the accident with a broken foot. But the principle behind the situation is what had an impact on me.
It made me think about all that I’m grateful for. It inspired me strive to be ready to die. Because frankly, I don’t think I’ve taken advantage of the best things in life, or even, the small joys: like the way winter smells, the way my mother and father greet me when I enter the room, or how about how nice teachers can be? Every day I’m shocked by peoples’ generosity. It’s so easy for some; I want to be that, and I want to appreciate that.
I want to read more books. I want to see a Kentucky Derby. I want sail. I want to follow my virtues. I want to play the fiddle, and I don’t want to go through life not appreciating what’s there to be appreciated.
Like the popular Nationwide Insurance TV commercials say, “life comes at you fast.” But I say, why not slow it down? I should, I must—Because my life is too fragile, and an accident, which I have no control over, could take me without warning.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.