In an Instant

Monday, April 22nd, 2013 14

Life as we know it can change in an instant. I think the events of the past week remind us all of that. As I look back over the past few months, I am seeing ways in which I’ve been reminded repeatedly of this change-ability of life. My favorite film of this year’s True/False Festival, The Crash Reel, was all about the frailty of our human experience and how quickly it all can change. Focusing on the devastating training-run crash of then Olympic-bound snowboarder Kevin Pearce and his slow steps at healing, we as viewers are pulled in immediately to how his life changes 180 degrees in one moment. We are reminded, in deeply affecting and emotional ways throughout the documentary, that each of us is potentially one instant away from our own life-altering moment.

Watching this film reminded me of a childhood friend’s grandmother whose life was forever impacted by a freak, Frida Kahlo-like car accident. I thought about my friend’s niece who almost died this past summer of cardiac arrest at the age of 9. It brought up horrific images of 9/11, Columbine, the tsunami. Memories of countless close calls and near-misses in my own life and in the lives of my friends and loved ones bubbled up. The film reverberated with me for a few weeks as it culled forth my experience of being diagnosed with cancer five years ago and the ways in which that health crisis changed me and my life in an instant. I’m sure as you are reading this, just as I sit here writing, other memories and stories of lives changing in the blink of an eye flash before us.

Spectra_Softtone_DoubleLoveUs_rsAnd while these thoughts can bring about such despair and sadness, this awareness can also remind us to cherish what we have in our lives right now. I remember when Tony and I were going to sleep the evening we saw The Crash Reel, I couldn’t hug him tight enough. I distinctly remember holding onto him as we lay there in our friends’ guest room, thinking how much I love him, how much I need him, how quickly our lives are flying by, and how much I want to keep this moment forever. I recall having waves of fear that this moment, and the next, indeed our fifteen plus years together, will all keep whizzing by, and that in any one moment, something could come crashing in that changes all of it. I can still feel the pangs of guilt I had in knowing I am not always so mindful of this bigger picture, that I’m not always so close to understanding my deep love for Tony and the gratitude I have for him in my life. No, I could more clearly see all the moments I totally take for granted, the times I choose to be on the computer or my phone scrolling through social media rather than talking to Tony about our respective days at work, the times I’m frustrated that he didn’t rinse out his coffee mug (again!), and on and on. And I remember thinking before drifting off to sleep that I don’t want to do that anymore, I don’t want to take Tony for granted, I don’t want to choose to look at Instagram rather than connecting with him, I don’t want to be so frustrated about the damn coffee mug.

But then, that moment was gone. I fell asleep. I woke up the next day, and my life marched on with all its usual distractions, ungratefulness, and annoyances. And then my neighbor was diagnosed with cancer. A wake-up call. And then students at Tony’s high school were in a terrible car accident coming back from lunch. Another wake-up call. And then the episodes of this past week unfurled. More wake-up calls. So I write this post to remind myself to stay awake. To urge my awareness to linger. To choose love, every day. Because life can change in an instant. xoxo

Today is day 365 of my 365 project. But, I needed to write this post for today. I’ll be sharing my thoughts tomorrow on this past year’s journey, and announcing my next project. See you then.

14 Responses

  1. Debra says:

    Beautiful. Truly. xoxo

  2. Mary Leach (@maryeleach) says:

    Meghan, I’ve read and re-read this post. It resinates so much with my own desire to live with more gratitude and love.

    Beautiful post. Thank you.

  3. Underdog30 says:

    Bravo, Monkey!

  4. Melissa says:

    Beautiful, Meghan. I feel the same way. Woke up to greet this week and my wonderful, imperfect, precious life with so much appreciation. Love the photo, too. You two are the cutest!

  5. Leslie says:

    Lovely words and a great reminder to live in the present. And a gorgeous image as well!

  6. I have been feeling the urge to run and seek cover ever since Sandy Hook. And then things kept snowballing, one catastrophe after the next. As if last summer wasn’t enough for me. I soon realized that I wasn’t the only one, nor was my family who was hurting. Those that know the depths of great sorrow have the give of sweet joy known on a level that only suffers can. Life is a gift. Thank you for opening your heart and being the voice of many who can’t find the words.


  7. I know this only too well. One step, one lousy ‘did not know my left leg had fallen asleep’ step and I’m living with a leg that will never fully recover from the ensuing injury. One moment my sweet daughter is living a carefree life any 20 something should live and the next she is a victim of breast cancer; her life seemingly shattered.

    But we go on; houses are sold that can’t be managed, wigs are bought for loss of hair and we can only hope that there is a greater purpose to all of this. But most importantly. We do go on. We don’t let life’s challenges stop us in our tracks; rising up to and beating the challenges is often the reward.

    Great thought provoking post.

  8. Corinna says:

    This. Just, this.

    Wonderful image, and soulful reminder to be present with all that we value since everything will change sooner or later. Also not to live in fear or worry, but to live in awareness and gratitude. It’s a hard practice, but I’m trying. xo

  9. Darlene says:

    I love this post – we get too busy and take life for granted – it’s good to be reminded
    I have always tried to NEVER take anyone or anything for granted since I was a little girl and lost my great grandmother. I treasure every moment with everyone I know and that’s part of why I take so many photos to have a keepsake. being diagnosed with Cancer in 2008 Greg woke up and decided to not take life for granted and then when I was diagnosed in 2011 – he was glad he was living everyday as if it was his last and enjoying life with me – we a both currently cancer free and enjoying everyday. NEVER take life for granted – live as if you were dying!!!! xo

  10. Laura says:

    This is a beautiful post. Thank you. Really. Thank you. This is something both my husband and I have been wrestling with since I came home from Oasis. We felt that the previous 20 years of our marriage were inhabited by two people just trying to make it through each day but not really living. We’ve been trying to alter that these last 5 or so months. Trying to not regret the “lost” time we wasted on unimportant things. To really love each other and not take it for granted that we’d “be there”. The events of the last week have really brought home to me how fragile life is and how important it is to slow down, be in the moment, and really, truly connect with those I love. And while I truly with my whole heart wish that the events in Boston and West had NEVER happened I do know that even out of horrendous tragedy comes life.

  11. Barbara Paulsen says:

    Beautifully written. Thank you for the reminder that the most important thing are people, not things. xo

  12. Julie says:

    You have no idea how much I needed this post right now.

    Understand it completely.

    Thank you!

  13. Cyndie says:

    Meghan, this is beautifully written and the perfect reminder to live in gratitude and love. I’ve noticed that even though things are challenging at this point, I’m at peace more often than in the past. We are feeling very blessed to have so much…friendship, love, prayers, kindness from family and friends. Thank you for putting words to my feelings.

  14. […] edge of my left toe, encased in a heavy hiking boot, dipped ever so slightly into the water. In an instant, I felt the slippery surface of the riverbank, and I was […]

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