Sunday, January 18, 2015

Mortality lesson... in the guise of a car/pedestrian accident outside my window

I stopped at my local Starbucks to do some writing this morning, but found myself distracted by what looked like an accident or crime scene at the intersection where the Starbucks sits. At first, I thought police were wrapping up a collision, but neither car I saw had too much damage and there was way too large a police presence for a mere fender-bender. 

As I set up my laptop, I noticed more police cars pull up, more crime scene tape and a hastily erected canopy/command post. Officers began snapping lots of photos and conferring with each other. I finally asked a Starbucks worker whether she knew what had happened, and she told me a pedestrian was hit while crossing in the crosswalk by a car making a left turn. She heard the pedestrian was seriously hurt and might not survive. I asked whether she knew how fast the car had been going and she didn't. She did say it was very dark, wet and windy out when the accident happened (around 5;30am. It's now 8:35am).

I tried to refocus on my writing, but my mind kept going back to the accident. Who was the pedestrian? Man? Woman? Teen? What were they doing out at 5:30 in the morning? Heading to work? Heading home from work? Will he/she survive? Does he/she have a family? Children? What about the driver? Did he/she see the pedestrian in the crosswalk? Was he/she speeding? Preoccupied? Switching stations on the radio? Drinking coffee? Racing to make the turn before the light turned red? How random is an accident like this?

(Update: a ladder fire truck has just arrived at the scene. I have no idea why.)

The thing that really struck me was the apparent randomness of this type of accident. How many times do we step into a crosswalk? Do we ever expect to be struck down while crossing the street? And how many times do we make left and right turns? How much do we pay attention to people standing on the corner, waiting to cross? Do you gun it to make the turn before the light turns red?

Why am I obsessed with this scene? Is it because I've been obsessing over my own mortality lately? 

I will turn 51 years old in 15 days. That's the same age my mother was when she passed away. Logically, I know that I won't drop dead as soon as I turn 51, but I can't help wondering, how prepared am I to die? Are all my affairs in order? (No) Have I achieved everything I've ever wanted to do? (Not even close). Am I ready to go? (Sometimes, I feel as though I am). 

Morbid, yes. Unusual, no. 

Several friends have shared similar fears with me (they've all survived past the age of their parent's death). I don't think about it constantly, but it has been on my mind a lot lately. You just never know if or when you'll stare your own mortality in the face, and I guess no one is ever "ready" to go. 

(Update: the reason for the ladder truck has become clear. Investigators are using the ladder extension to snap photos of the accident scene from above).

Well, I've been sitting here for 90 minutes. My coffee cup is empty. So is the Starbucks, but I'm not a seat hog and I've been here long enough. I won't get any writing done with this accident on my mind. 

Time to pack up and go make the best of this day I've been given.

How are you spending the day you've been given?

Friday, January 9, 2015

Self-Esteem (or... how to be your own Number One Fan)

This was the Daily Om post that landed my email in-box today, and I would say it resonates with so many people right now. The exercise seems very simple, so take a look. If the exercise works for you, check out some of the other inspirational posts, classes, workshops and products offered at the Daily Om website.

Having low self-esteem is a common issue and with some introspection you can start to loosen the grip of this negative thought pattern.

Our primary relationship in life is with our selves. No one else goes through every experience in life with us. We are our one permanent companion, yet we are often our worst critic. To remind ourselves of our magnificence, we can do this exercise: “Five Things I Like About Myself.”

Begin by writing down at least five things that you like about yourself. This is not the time to be modest. If you are having trouble coming up with a total of five items, you know that this exercise can really benefit you. Be sure to include more than your physical attributes on your list, since our bodies are only part of who we are. If you are still struggling with what to include on your list, think of what you like about your favorite people, because these traits are probably qualities that you possess too. Another way to complete your list is to think of five things you don’t like about yourself and find something about these traits that you can like.

Continue this process for a week, thinking of five new things you like about yourself everyday. At the end of the week, read the list aloud to yourself while standing in front of a mirror. Instead of looking for flaws to fix, allow the mirror to reflect your magnificence. You may feel silly about standing in front of a mirror and reading aloud a list of your admirable attributes, but it might just bring a smile to your face and change the way you see yourself. Remember, it is when you feel the most resistant that this exercise can benefit you the most. Because we are constantly looking at the world, instead of looking at ourselves, we don’t often see what’s magnificent about ourselves that others do. When we take the time to experience ourselves the way we would experience someone we love and admire, we become our best companion and supporter on life’s journey.