To be frank, this week had been shit.
I’m not somone who uses superfluous cussing to get a point across, but in this instance I believe it is warranted.
I will not go into huge amounts of detail about why, but you’ll have to trust me that the level of unfortunate events that had occured that week was enough to get a pretty positive fellow down. And then this happened…
MY LIFE FLASHED BEFORE MY VERY EYES.
This is a phenomenon which is surely only present in Hollywood movies, right? A sort of device of plot, that helps make a mundane story come to life? I can attest that there is a real life element to life flashes which are now undoubtedly ingrained in my brain.
That morning, instead of walking to the gym, I took my car the short distance as I wanted to get a full workout in, instead of cutting it short to get home on time. In the short five minute journey, I noticed some unusual and yet unconcerning noises, which I put down to the wet weather. One work out down and a change in the weather and still there are these strange grating noises. I park up. I get down on the wet ground and I look for anything loose under the car. Nothing. I check around the wheels but all seems “normal”.
I get home and shower. I tell my wife about the strange noises and I plan that evening to drive back to my parent’s house so my dad can take a look and if there is a problem then I could borrow a car to see me through the next weeks.
We continue our day and I drive to our friends’ house about 10 minutes away. The noise isn’t so obvious but it is certainly still there. I think to myself – its a good job i’m getting this sorted this evening.
When we leave, we jump in the car and say our goodbyes, I want to get home early so that I can make a dent in the 3.5 hour journey to my home town before dark – I wait to turn right from the cul-de-sac onto a busy main road,i give it a bit of welly to slot in, so I am a little closer to the car in front than I would ideally like. We approach the traffic lights and I cautionarily apply the brakes.
In slow motion I see the back of the car in front get closer. I clock a glance of my son’s face in my rearview mirror. I press harder still on the brake. Still nothing. I glance ahead to the oncoming lane and I turn the steering wheel to the right. I say “the brakes arent…” but I never finish the sentence. Cars are coming towards us and I pull the handbrake as I force the brake pedal to the floor and beyond swerving into the opposite lane. Finally we stop. Crisis averted.
The images that flickered through my mind were in sepia and all momentary glances of life. In none of them was I still, but instead a perpetual motion of emotions and feelings.
MY LIFE FLASHED BEFORE MY VERY EYES.
It happened so quickly – I didn’t stall. I had the wherewithall to realise that I couldnt stop where I was. I talked through what I was doing. Word by word instructions until I roll to a stop click the hazards on and finally breathe.
Of all of the images that presented themselves in my seconds of need, none of them were of money. None were of work. No housework, no schedules, no self-doubt.
There was happiness, weddings, births, hugs, smiles. Family, friends, moments of love and tears of joy.
As shaken as I was – it gave me a whole lot of perspective.
Life is too short.
To coin a phrase – I couldnt help but wonder… why have i been so hard on myself for all of these years?
I have been pondering this very thought in the weeks that have followed, and I still cannot work out why i have this innate need to prove myself in work as a dad and as a man. I damage myself every day trying to prove to others that i am worthy. And even since this life-adjusting event with a moment of clarity to reflect on – I am still holding my life to ransome for the sake of what others think.
My Dad had even asked the question “Son, why are you being so hard on yourself?” and the truth is that i dont know why. It’s like picking away at a scab, only with a scab I will forget about it in a few days – but the impressions I have made mentally are still scarring me decades on.
If a near death experience didnt result in lasting perspective, then what will?!
Its time to put the brakes on self-damage. To take control of my own perception of me and see it differently. I just hope that I am spared the next near-death experience and can instead make lasting changes to support myself.