It was March 20th, 1976. It was about two o'clock in the morning. It was really, really horrifically cold and we were still calculating our weather in Fahrenheit Back then, it was that kind of weird foggy, you get in the middle of winter, painfully cold, even the fog feels frozen on your skin. It was now Saturday morning
Asleep at home, just after midnight, the phone rang. It was someone we knew. He'd been picked up by the police for drinking and driving. There was a time, I guess an awful lot of people drove drunk. How long ago you asked? Well, in fact, that was 47 years ago. My research told me it was a leap year. I doubt I knew then that it was a leap year or if that actually mattered.
I ran into someone a couple of weeks ago at an event. someone local, who had an accident about nine months ago, and she was horrifically banged up in the accident. It caused her some hearing loss. It caused her to have heart issues. She took the brutal brunt of the steering wheel and suffered as very serious concussion
There's an awful lot more things obviously going on, but concussion is a very strange beast in of itself. And she and I spoke at a luncheon where I was simply inquiring how she was having gone through some of the things she'd gone through. I wanted to offer some suggestions for tools that may be something she was already smart enough to be doing.
And some things that I learned very late in life were important, but I didn't get to them for some time. She wrote a post a few days later in response to some good news. I was incredibly touched in that she reached out and talked about me, but that's not what prompted this anniversary article.
It was what she had said about herself along with the good news she could now hike and bike again. And the article came about because in talking about the accident and her reflections after our talk and her good news, she stated that she wasn't any longer going to talk about it. The person “she used to be”, that person had been left back at the accident site.
And that information that those powerful words on that page hit me like a sledge hammer.
You know, I hadn't realized that for all these years. I too lamented and referred to and daydreamed about the person “I used to be”.
And it took me 39 years to even openly deal with my accident, 39 years to start the process to open up to the forgiveness that had to be given all around. In so doing, I realized that it was really important that I too, leave that 20 year old me at the accident site and in my case, she will be in good hands.
And that piece of the story is for another time
Yet, as I sit here retelling the story from the perspective of this anniversary, I can't help but smile at all the changes and all. . Oh, incredible. Happenings mostly in the last decade that have come from decades before where I thought I was just stalled in life, and yet I was doing self investigation. I was researching what had happened, and very, very slowly I was rebuilding this puzzle of my life, this new life.
And the interesting thing is, and I think I said early on here that I'd have to go back. I'd have to go back a lot farther than that accident.
This last week where I've really looked deeply into what my friend said about her accident and where she's now going. And I realized where I am now standing on this precipice, .
In each of those moments of trauma, those difficult times in our lives when we're children, those sometimes material moments that send our entire access, spinning. And often put us so far off kilter. It can be hard to ever think of returning. And yet what I now see is it's not so much a matter of returning as once again reinventing.
You see, for decades I've known, the only way forward for me was to dust off, reassess and reinvent and, and go on as this new form that I only understood peripherally. I didn't realize that's new. .
Well, the whole new being, and the only thing I needed to bring with me were the skills that were beneficial and the lessons that I needed to continue to go forward.
I didn't need to drag all the baggage of how it got here and what had happened, and the boo hoo hoos, and the if only, and the yes, as my friend had stated..
I cannot Be as I used to Be. In certain times of trauma there is no going back there. Never again will you be a you as you used to be.
And coming to terms with that is almost like a little death. It's like you, you put that version of you to rest.
And I now know that we must do it lovingly with thanks for the good things learned, for the skills we can bring forward, and. understanding and forgiveness for the things that weren't so good.
For the mistakes made. For the things that we perhaps wish were not, and yet all of it is why we go forward with positivity and empathy and kindness.
In embracing this new you, you are in fact increasing or increasingly becoming that better you. That's at the core of all the layers that make up you and me, and that's incredible.
And the more I thought about it and the more I documented in my head the times, the trials, the, the trauma that led to a, a reinvention, a restart, if you will.
The more I understood. Often those lessons were meant to give us enough of an understanding that we could have empathy for those who may have to fall into that trauma, go through that difficulty, that illness, that devastation.
And if we, you know, build a toolbox of those skills and bring those forward, even as we lay our old selves, our used to be cells to rest at their appropriate resting place, we are enriched by what they gave us and what an incredible gift that is to be able to have some hindsight and as much as there is no going back.
There should no longer be a feeling of needing to go back, of needing to be who you used to be and there comes a joy from understanding that this new you going forward is a better you.
Is an upgraded version with more skills, more empathy, more kindness, more concern for your fellow humans, and more ability to serve those around you and do it in a way that is most beneficial to all, including yourself.
Because what is it they say? You can't pour from an empty cup.
And by gently laying each of our used to be cells to rest, we are filling our cup with all the good things from those pieces and taking them forward into our new person.
Then whether your life has one or two or 20 reinventions, those skills that you take forward can only benefit you when you use them well in service of others.
Then that can have many, many iterations. And you can look different each and every time. But this is an incredible lesson to learn. And so with that lesson in mind,
I will recount the story of March 20th, 1976. From this perspective, now being able to view those that were a part of that tableau with me in a very different light.
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