What if this is THAT moment? On gutchecks and living life on purpose.

July 1, 2014 in , by Sue Braiden

What if this is THAT moment?  On gutchecks and living life on purpose.

Last night my son and his girlfriend were hit by a drunk driver. My heart jumped into my throat when I got the news. It’s a mother’s worst nightmare, to get that call. You play it over in your head a hundred times when they’re out there beyond the reach of your arms, having to admit that you cannot protect them from so many things.

How does it end? A life snuffed out? More ruined?

Your head is going a thousand miles an hour, living through every horrifying scenario, making bargains with whatever higher power you pray to or hope might be there to listen: just let them be okay, and I promise to do/be (… and this is where you fill in the blank).

Have you ever made that bargain? Clutching your stomach with the wind knocked out of you? That moment where time actually does stand still?

How does it end?

And what if you actually get the chance to make good on that promise you just made? That bargain you just struck? Because this time you got the happy ending.


And what if you actually get the chance to make good on that promise you just made? That bargain you just struck? Because this time you got the happy ending.

I did. Not once, but twice. Two sons, several years apart, both in horrific car wrecks caused by drivers wildly under the influence. Both walked away. Their grandmother was killed by a drunk driver when their father was only five years old, so now the truth of not one, but two, close calls was painfully real.

It’s impossible to step back from that kind of gutcheck unchanged. You cannot just say “thank God” and move right on again, and the reason you can’t is because you realize, having already accounted for the horror of that other possible outcome, just how devastated your life would really be.

This is that moment:

the one where you get to decide what comes next. The one where you consider your life without that person who was just spared, and how you’re now going to make sure they know their full and precious measure. It’s a gift you’ve been given — where the clock actually got rewound and disaster undone, where you’re given the impossibly happy ending — and one you must now give back.

How will you do it?

The first thing you recognize is the value of what we so often take for granted: the meaning of “normal” when the people and circumstances of our life are okay. That’s a good place to start. Pick up the phone and tell them you love them. Invite them over for dinner and take the time to simply tell them why your life is so much richer with them in it. Be in the habit of letting them know this in some small way everytime you reconnect. Ask yourself if you interact with this person as frequently and as meaningfully as you wish you could.

And what of an outward giving back? For me it meant also wanting to figure out who in my community invested most into ensuring that the circumstances that had nearly ended my sons lives wouldn’t happen to someone else, and then finding a way to be of use to them in that quest. M.A.D.D.? Something else? And what if I invited my friends to help too?

Paying it back, or forward, isn’t just accounting for a bargain and making good on a debt. It is an act of “mindfulness”. For when these lightning bolts hit, they are often a reckoning, where we are called to face the half-life we have created by simply going through the motions of each day.

Living life on purpose isn’t some trite expression of intent. It’s the choice we make to be fully present in our own life, in the driver’s seat, and sharing the road ahead with the people we most want there.

Living life on purpose isn’t some trite expression of intent.

It’s the choice we make to be fully present in our own life, in the driver’s seat, and sharing the road ahead with the people we most want there.

Living a life of adventure should start first with this mindfulness. What is most precious to us? Who do we most want to share that journey with? What parts of our days are simply going through the motions, instead of actually moving us forward toward an ideal life? And what kinds of simply practices can we embrace to help us constantly refocus? Taking 15 minutes at the beginning of each day over a cup of tea to align our hearts and heads to our goals for the day? Doing something that scares us at least once a week to push us outside of our comfort zone and closer to our own brave new world? Simply smiling and making eye contact with the people we meet in our travels? Taking 5 minutes at the end of each day to reflect on at least one thing we are grateful for before we drift off to sleep?

Living mindfully doesn’t necessarily require a big leap to the left or right in order to get us heading in the right direction. Sometimes the simple acts of awareness, acknowledgement, gratitude and realignment can be the most powerful tools.

When those moments come along that serve as a mirror held up that sometimes scares the hell right out of us, we should absolutely choose to pause, be still, and simply consider the gift we’ve just been given again.

It’s time to choose your own happy ending.

 

Sue

 

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