But I learned adversity comes with lessons attached.
First, pay attention when getting on a motorcycle. Yep, a "keystone cop" moment that cost me dearly and ended up giving me a lifetime companion consisting of two metal plates and several screws to keep my leg and knee attached. I now have a legitimate excuse for the extra six pounds I carry around.
Second, and this one particularly poignant. Compassion and patience for those physically challenged. I always believed I possessed these two traits, but until I found myself counted among the numbers of those with physical impairments, and this includes the elderly, I did not understand the depth of difficulty faced daily in just completing basic tasks. Moving from point A to B using walkers, crutches, or even the mechanical Jazzy wonders takes effort and a constant battle against anxiety. Meeting basic needs such as bathing and going to the bathroom were two I had to learn creative maneuvers to accomplish without falling over. Getting in and out of a bathtub today is still worthy a YouTube video. But the fear I experienced (and continue to conquer) was totally unexpected. A sense of being "trapped" is the best way to describe it. I can't run from a dog, climb out of a crunched car if I got into a wreck, crawl on the floor with my grandkids, or kneel to say a prayer. The "up side"? I can take advantage of handicap parking during rush hours and I can predict a storm better than the weatherman. Those who know, don't expect as much from me, although that doesn't mean I've lowered the expectations I place on myself. If anything, I'm probably harder on myself, which leads me to the third and most important lesson.
Gratitude. When I fell, I landed on my head first, no arms or hands breaking my fall. Luckily, I'd worn my helmet, which in all probability saved my life, or a lifetime with brain damage. Two seconds before I'd been laughing at a joke my girlfriend told me, a list of what I needed to do when I got home streaming in my thoughts, and in the deep recesses of my subconscious, the never-ending plot holes in my manuscript needing a fix. Life was good...and then it wasn't. Time isn't something any of us can afford to throw away. The future changes in a split-second. Be grateful for the moments your world spins the right direction and pay attention to the lessons learned when it tilts off its axis. Don't rush through life. Don't wish away your today on a tomorrow you may never see.
Does this mean live in the moment and don't prepare for the future? Absolutely not. Like any journey, however, if you only focus on the destination and ignore the scenery passing by, you're missing the best part of the trip.
I decided to try something this year. A "gratitude jar." Every time something happens that brings me joy, makes me laugh (or cry in a good way), and forces me to acknowledge how wonderful my life really is, I'm going to jot it down and stick it in the jar. When I find myself in a dark place (and I also discovered that scary "cave" this year) I'll pull out a few and do some positive reflecting to remind me how blessed my life is, even at its lowest points. If I make it through 2015 without retrieving a single note, I'll have had a remarkable year. In any event, when the year comes to a close, I'll read through my year's happy moments -- maybe start a scrapbook of my favorites, and place an empty jar out for the next year following. I know it's not a new concept, but I want tangible proof life is still good when it seems impossibly bad.
How about you? Glad or sad 2014 has bid adieu? What's something you learned this past year to make this one better? Skip the crash diets. They only make you cranky.
Today's thought: Start with dessert and enjoy the best first, not last.