Our lives are all a compilation of trial and error. It’s full of these fleeting moments that send shock waves through our systems changing our lives and course we are bound to take. Sometimes these mistakes are little and easily corrected. Other times it not only affects our life but the life of others. Sometimes there’s no way of getting over things, you move forward but live with heavy pieces of a broken heart as you stumble ahead. And sometimes we watch and grieve over the mistake of others, swearing we won’t make the same mistakes.
But every once in awhile you get a second chance at the life you live. The universe, God, whatever you may believe gives you a do-over and you know if you make that same mistake twice you might not be so lucky.
My past was a bit tainted. But here I was escaping death on more than one occasion. Once in an accident of careless driving. Another time it was a mistake I made at a summer party. And every year August rolls around, I think they could have been mourning the anniversary of my death.
There are very few times in your life where you look back to a situation or an event where you think “I shouldn’t be here.”
I just remember days later I looked at my reflection, a head injury, bruises, and cuts covering my body. “I shouldn’t be alive.” If I were a cat with 9 lives I used two that night. I knew my luck was running out. And I didn’t want to take any more chances. Whoever my guardian angel was that was watching over me, had a greater job they knew about before signing up.
I wept at tombstone because I knew I was safe for the name that appeared on it. I looked down at a rubber bracelet as my fingers ran across the letters. I was alive because of her.
My life changed that day but not immediately. Gradually I began to realize this life I led wasn’t something to take for granted and if I was going to be alive when others weren’t able to, I’d have to live with a purpose greater than myself.
I’d live for those who have fallen. Both by choice and by a stroke of bad luck.
It’s been 4 years since that night. The only I thing I think of is everything I would have missed out on. I think of every accomplishment I’ve achieved so far. I think of the people I could have left behind and how I wouldn’t have had a chance to say goodbye. I think of the hearts that would have broke, the way my own heart did, as I prayed with tears streaming down my face over a friend’s casket. But most of all I think of the things I hadn’t done yet and I think of her and the things she’d never get to do.
It’s that which motivates me every day.
Because 24 hours isn’t that much time and anything can happen in that time frame.
I think of every goodbye as being the last one as I run out of the house with my keys. I am sure to say I love you, probably too much. I listen with a keen understanding that just maybe someone else can teach me something. Because that’s the beautiful thing about human interaction, we have something to give one another. Whether it be a story or an experience.
Every choice we make doesn’t just affect us. It was selfish of me to think this life I was leading was mine. Because that isn’t the case. My presence here impacts every person I interact with. It impacts every person I’ve met and it will influence the people I have yet to meet in the future.
To rise above the poor choices I’ve made. To become a better version of myself. To motivate someone in my presence and not have that influence only because of death.
We get one life to live and we get to choose how we fuck it up. But we also get to choose how we make it better and how we make the lives around us better.
This way, if ever our hourglass were to run out of the sand, we wouldn’t die with regret.
But I’m alive because there are things I still have to do. People I still want to help. Stories I still need to hear and people like me who just might need saving from themselves and their own demons.
We are our own problems but we too are our solution to these problems as well.
And just maybe if we are lucky we become who we were meant to be this whole time. But it is through every mistake that shapes us. It is through every redo we learn. And it is through every heartbreaking loss we realize at any moment it could have been us. And from there we do better and be better.