Thursday, June 3, 2010

Rear View Mirror

I lay in my bed this morning enjoying just laying in my bed. The sheets were fresh. The pillow was mine. The air was damp and muted and all was quiet.

Then came a horrific crash which sounded like thunder, but in my room. I threw on some shorts and ran down the hall to find my youngest still abed covered with her covers. Then I ran to the next room and my son was making his bed... so everyone was alright. "What was that?" I asked. My daughter pointed to the foot of her bed where she had stretched so hard that she kicked over her toy bin. I had obviously missed this fact when checking to make sure that a tree hadn't come through the roof. Toys were everywhere and she was smiling.

Good morning.

I wonder about those moments. Those moments just before the crash. Those moments right before impact when all is well and all is quiet. How easy it is for us to take those moments for granted and assume that they will keep coming and coming.

Last week I got an email telling me of an accident. A boy that we knew was in a crash. This boy is one of the most talented athletes his age... and at age 11 he was know already across the country for his skill. But last weekend he and his father ran in to each other on motorcycles and for a while it looked like the boy wouldn't even survive... let along play hockey again. I couldn't help but ponder the events right before the crash. A beautiful, sunny day... perfect for play, full of happiness and joy... moments that we wish would last forever. But life doesn't play that way.

There is a balance, I suppose. I know many parents who refuse to let their kids live because they are so consumed by fear that something might happen to them that they cloister them away from everything. But this approach, perhaps, ultimately does more long term damage than the scars of all but the worst accidents. Fear consumes us so that we can no longer lay in bed and enjoy the moments of quiet because we just know that a crash is waiting around the corner.

We are merely mortal, regardless of how godlike we feel in certain moments. We are flesh and blood. It reminds me of the end of the movie Patton... when Patton is walking off into the sunset of the movie, having won the war... and a few months before his own crash and demise would come. He related a story as follows:

"For over a thousand years, Roman conquerors returning from the wars enjoyed the honor of a triumph, a tumultuous parade. In the procession came trumpeters and musicians and strange animals from the conquered territories together with carts laden with treasure and captured armaments. The conqueror rode in a triumphal chariot the dazed prisoners walking in chains before him.Sometimes, his children, robed in white... stood with him in the chariot, or rode the trace horses. A slave stood behind the conqueror holding a golden crown and whispering in his ear a warning... that all glory... is fleeting."

I think all we can do with the lives that we have is to enjoy the parade... or the quiet bed... or the moments of joy and sunshine in the moments that we are given. Maturity brings the knowledge that crashes will come... and we must be prepared to pick up the spilled toys... or deal with the more serious consequences. But there can be no greater regret in life than looking in the rear view mirror and realizing that we missed those moments because we were too busy worrying about those crashes to come.


  1. i had a moment like this a few months ago when my next door neighbor was killed in a robbery. just like that, everything is gone in an instant. lives are changed with no forewarning, no omens, nothing. you go to work, thinking it's going to be a good day...and your life ends in a single moment - a blink.

    it shook me up.

    it made me more comfortable with your last paragraph. that life does change just that fast and the best we can do is enjoy the ride while it lasts.

  2. That would shake anyone up.

    I hope that you will find the calm or the joy or the parade.

  3. Great story to inspire and remind us the importance of living in the moment.

  4. Every day is an adventure, the question is just which kind or even kinds.

  5. You feel godlike sometimes? Like I didn't feel inferior enough.

    No, I get it. Of course I do. As life speeds along like derailed circus train. Monkeys flyin' all this-a-way and that.

    You've got to live in those moments when they come along. I had a great one the other day when I took my 4yo little girl to gymnastics. I love when they warm up and try to make them all do push ups. They are like a bunch of wiggly little noodles out there. A moment of pure delight in the middle of an exhausting frenetic day.

    And fear, well that's the basis of parenthood isn't it? Oh wait, love I guess. Well they get all mushed together when you have kids. I definitely fall on the less protective side of the fence. I want them to be bold. But they are so breakable too. We all are. Sometimes I see a patient just broken to bits and I get this sense there's hardly anything all holding us together.

    Rambly, sorry. But I liked your blog.

  6. It is true, there has to be some balance in life, but those little moments can sometimes feel like an eternity - if we remember to stop and enjoy them, just because.
    Wonderful Blog.

  7. May we all have more calm than storm. Great blog.

  8. I love writing that lingers throughout the a mist of perhaps and possibilities and hmmmmm.

    My eldest just turned 11. Despite my own aversion to sentimentality, I found myself with babybook in hand the other night, wiping tears from my cheeks.

    Oh to embrace each day, fearless. Thank you for an eloquent and needed reminder...