97 Days: On Hope, Recovery, and the Fragility of Existence

97 Days: On Hope, Recovery, and the Fragility of Existence

On January 6, 2016 I was in a car accident that crushed my vehicle and essentially broke me in half. Survival isn’t always up to the individual…sometimes we make it through an event without any input on the matter other than to respond with gratitude, therefore I stand before you with a grateful smile despite it all. “It all” is everything that has happened in the wake that flash of screaming, twisted metal, shattering plastic, and the instantaneous death of my ten year old Chevy. Little did I know that the wreck would be the easy part, and little did I know that out of the smoke and pain, I would emerge with a new perspective on life, love, and the fragility of existence.

I didn’t choose to have my spine wrenched. I didn’t choose to have my nerves ripped and stretched, and to be averaging four hours of sleep a night. I didn’t choose to amass more debt paying what insurance won’t cover, and I didn’t want to spend months in a prescription drug haze of pain, inactivity and frustration. That was a decision made by the driver who impulsively floored it in an attempt to blow through an intersection without paying attention to traffic laws or me, having the right of way, bearing down on her. That was her call to put herself directly in the line of fire of the first new vehicle I ever drove off the lot, feeding her Kia Rio to fate and physics. In that moment, she (who, thankfully, was unharmed) christened a new chapter in my life, and here I sit as a result.

So what all did Ms. Kia Rio gift me in the intervening 97 days? A storm of doctor appointments, clinic and pharmacy visits, tests, spinal injections, phone calls, faxes, lawyers, tears, and mountains of paperwork, pills and patches. She disrupted my “9-5” gig. She pulled me from being an active human being and saddled me with a stream of faceless days and nights struggling through pain by myself in my apartment. She made the decision for me to step away from events and miss out on time with family and friends, and she gave me day after day of sitting and staring at a blank page, unable to write because of the narcotic fog in my head.

But I want to thank her for much more important things.

Those months and weeks and days and hours were full of opportunities I can never get back, but what that time offered me was a refreshed outlook on living. We are so good at looking ahead and focusing on what is to come, that we often ignore the magic that lies in the moments that led to where we presently stand. Every story has a point of origin, and tracing the lines back to those impossibly fragile little decisions can be incredibly rewarding. For Ms. Kia Rio, a split second decision led to the minor inconveniences of a traffic citation, maybe higher insurance payments, and likely a new car. That same decision forced me into the maddening machinery I described above, also terrifying me enough to scare me out of the lull I had been in, opening the blinds to the warm light of knowing I almost lost it all…but didn’t.

We are lucky to be here. When you zoom out and see your life for the expansive universe it is, you realize that the only restriction on hope and promise and progress and success are the walls we allow/choose around ourselves. Each and every day is limitless potential, regardless of your situation, and while we all have uncontrollable interruptions in our flow, like Ms. Kia Rio, we all ultimately make the call on how we invest our energy in our situation.

When you almost lose something, you tend to hold onto it tighter once it is back in your hands, and life is the ultimate example of that. I am so thrilled to be able to type these words, and so thrilled to love and be loved and have a chance to wake up every day. While productivity is challenging, and I have no endurance for even sitting up on my own for extended periods of time right now, what I am able to do is reflect on and celebrate the people, events, places, and moments that make up my world, and start moving forward with enhanced senses and a fuller perspective. To know all the steps I make from this point forward will be with renewed confidence in my potential, and an appreciation of the opportunities that lie ahead.

I am so fortunate for everyone and everything in my life, and that fortune makes me, as with all of us, rich beyond imagination. Time to leave the wreckage behind and start making things happen again with a full heart, healing body, and blooming mind.

Ever forward.