I have come to appreciate just how precious life really is. I thought I had this one, and I thought I understood how my time here on earth is limited. Yet, along comes an event that just shakes me to my core, and helps me to see I don’t quite have it yet.
Recently, while on retreat, I was called towards something bigger in myself by a mentor and friend of mine, Art Shirk who is living with an illness he knows will cut his time short. Art truly knows he doesn’t have time to cope, or to leave things unsaid for now. Art knows there isn’t enough time to put off saying “I love you”. Yet, here he is living and leading as a role model for me and 17 others at week-long leadership retreats.
For the rest of us, myself included, we continue to live as if time is infinite. That we have lots of time to cope with problems, to figure stuff out and if we have to accept less than perfect right now … that’s OK there’s always tomorrow. I’m getting the message though!! I don’t have time for this crap! I hope I have another 30-40 years in front of me, and even knowing that … I don’t have time for this crap!
Colliding with me
On Sunday, I was driving through Toronto returning from a wonderful camping weekend with Rosie and the boys. It was heavy traffic, although moving remarkably good for Toronto. Suddenly the traffic in front of me was screeching to a stop. Simply put I could not stop in time with a big trailer behind me. A few more feet of space and I might have done it, but unfortunately, that was not the case and we had a minor collision. Thankfully, the worst of the damage appears to be the front of my truck. Even more thankfully, no one was hurt in this ordeal.
So this will cost me some money. It’s not out of the question I could be charged with a traffic offense, and until the investigation finishes I am in limbo waiting to hear. My truck will be gone for a couple weeks while they fix it. None of this really matters a whole lot to me (despite how painful or expensive the process might be).
What really happened in this moment can best be described as a wake-up call. This could have been so much worse than it was! I think I’m a good driver, and can usually move safely through even heavy traffic. I was towing a trailer weighing around 5000 pounds, add to this my truck and cargo and it’s a lot of weight to bring to a stop quickly. We were on a busy highway which can best be described as frustrating due to significant volume most times of the day.
The wake-up call is not about my driving. I’ve towed trailers for more than 20 years now without incident (until now), and will continue to do so as long as my health allows. I will be driving and towing through Toronto again, likely a little more cautiously than ever … but there’s no question I will be there again. The wake-up call is more about who I’m being in my life.
When I’m towing I like to leave space. Doesn’t mean it’s always there, but I try to remain conscious of driving more conservatively than without the trailer. What often happens is, in leaving space in front of me to create response time, I find people are constantly filling in this space. It can be easy to get frustrated and see others as being in the wrong. It can be easy to judge them, and hold myself as better than them. However, the truth is they are just people looking to get where they’re going too. They’re people just trying to make the best out of an insanely busy drive on a 16 lane highway.
Living in a box
I’ve spent a large part of my life living in a box. I would see myself as being more than, or less than someone else. I would justify my actions based on how someone else should make my life easier. I might even pretend I can live with driving through Toronto, when in fact I was acting from a mindset of obligation.
When I approach my world from one of these places, the truth is I’ve never really been happy despite being able to put on a positive face. I would convince others that the commute across Toronto really isn’t that bad, yet the very next day loose my temper at a driver who is getting in my way.
Around two years ago I was commuting to a client site on the far side of Toronto. On the best of days it’s about a two hour drive … one way. I remember this one day while only about half way I started to feel the lease on the coffee had expired. Despite feeling an urge to find a bathroom, I thought no big deal … I’ll keep going. I made a choice.
As I exited the highway close to my client’s offices, I was now feeling the pressure and knew the first order of business was finding a bathroom when I got inside. This is when I encountered someone driving very slow. I felt a different kind of pressure, as I got upset at this person for driving so slow. Don’t they know how much of a hurry I’m in?!?! The truth is, the only person at fault in this situation was me. The other person was just on their way somewhere and had no clue what I was feeling. The only person inconveniencing me is me.
The same can be said about the collision that happened on Sunday. The person I collided with was in no way inconveniencing me or trying to get in my way. They were just people looking to get somewhere on a Sunday afternoon. It’s so unfortunate we had to meet this way.
No collision in me
In all of this, I’ve chosen to be at peace with it. To not judge, to not blame, to not justify anything about what happened on Sunday. I cannot change the fact I couldn’t stop in time. I cannot change the fact the front end of my truck needs repairs. I am at peace.
Staying at peace about this collision is really important to me. If I took the opposite mindset and filled my heart with blame and justification towards the other driver, it would mean when I return to driving on the 401 (and I will soon), I will judge every driver as being a threat to me. It could mean driving more aggressively, and making moves to block other drivers from getting in front of me. I might tailgate, which only increases the risk of another collision. The truth is if I do these things, I only increase the likelihood of having another collision.
How many times do we feel inconvenienced by others when we have to wait in a long line up at a busy grocery store? How often do we feel violated when someone invades our personal space? How often do we judge someone because of what they look like? How often do we approach life like we deserve to be the first in line? How often …
What might be possible if we did not approach the world from this view of inconvenience? How many less collisions would happen on the highway? How many of us would be less stressed or less caught up being inconvenienced by other people just trying to go through their lives? What might be possible in your life if you had less stress and worry?
My wish for the world
My wish for you and this crazy world we live in together is we find peace. The peace I’m talking about in this case is the peace you can only find in your heart. The type of peace where we realize we’re all in this together and life would be so much easier if we see each other with openness, love and true heartfelt acceptance for who we are. The type of peace that means you can go through your day with a smile, regardless of what happens along the trail. The type of peace that means we can all be together and build a better world for all.
I don’t have time for this crap! I don’t want to waste another minute of my life, regardless of how many more years I have in front of me. I want a life full of peace, love and a way of being in which we can all be happy.
I only want the same for you too as I know anything is possible if only we stop wasting time.