GUEST BLOG: Why We Need to Practice Gratitude, By Kara Michelle Of Being Karmic
Gratitude is something we can all express more often. Most of us have lots to be appreciative of but we often forget or take these things for granted, without realizing how lucky we are!
Last January I was in an accident that I probably shouldn’t have walked away from. I was going 100-110km/hr on the highway when I hit a patch of black ice and lost control of my car. I tried to swerve a couple times to correct myself but had little control. Luckily there were no cars around as I took up both lanes and eventually went off to the left. My car caught air as I drove off the highway, at which point I closed my eyes to avoid seeing what was about to happen and to avoid getting dizzy. (I know – my biggest concern was getting dizzy!) But I had a strange sense of calm – knowing that there was nothing I could do to change the situation – and I just tried to breathe slowly. I knew whatever was going to happen would happen fast, but I just wanted the moment to be over. I felt the impact as I flipped end over end and then rolled 4 times before coming to a stop. While rolling I kept getting hit by the things that were in my passenger seat… clothes, a laptop, the baseball I use for trigger points in my back and hips, etc. Once I came to a stop I took a moment to collect myself and my thoughts. I could hear the static loud on the radio because my iPod flew and disconnected from the transmitter, and I could hear the windshield wipers going which seemed weird. Before even opening my eyes I wiggled my fingers and toes, finding a sense of relief that I could do that. Then I opened my eyes and turned the car off, hoping it wouldn’t start on fire or that the airbag wouldn’t deploy and hit me in the face now. I realized what had happened as I lay drivers side down, and saw a small cut and bruise forming on my head. I took my seatbelt off so I could sit normally instead of hanging sideways and then I searched for my phone (which luckily was still in my purse) to call 911.
After spending a few hours in the hospital getting X-rays and tests done I was cleared to go. The whole situation was so surreal. I was terrified about what had happened but I was walking out with nothing more than a few bruises and sore muscles. Maybe it was my reaction to the stress but I was laughing and acting as though nothing had even happened. I laughed with the RCMP about the state of my car when he arrived at the scene, as I realized it probably wouldn’t be able to continue the drive to BC. Later at the hospital the RCMP told me he was able to save the bottle of red wine that flew out of my trunk, which seemed funny that a glass bottle had survived the accident! I laughed with my friend Brett as we emptied the contents of my car into his, and tried to salvage all my junk. There was broken glass everywhere and he couldn’t believe what I’d done to the car, but here I was standing injury-free so we continued to make light of it all. The towing company said they chased papers down the highway and searched for all the pieces to my beloved juicer which produced pretty funny images in my head. When I got back to Danielle and Brett’s that night we laughed that it was probably my baseball that hit me in the head… or how my bag of rice cakes had flown so far from the car and was one of the first things I noticed… or that I had spent the time in the hospital reading a book on my iPad while waiting to get picked up. When I called my mom I laughed about how stubborn I was… How I had to pee when I got to the hospital but because they wanted to check my neck and spine first they didn’t want to let me walk to the bathroom. One paramedic sent for a couple nurses so the three of them could hold me up so I could pee in a bedpan, so I refused to go. How embarrassing would that be?! There was no way I was going to do that.. so I waited a couple hours until I was cleared and I could go by myself. I laughed again when I called my dad and we said how that car had always been a shitbox and now I was free of it. I was finding the whole situation of the accident so strange that I had to laugh about it, and honestly the laughter helped keep me from feeling the full magnitude of what had happened.
A couple days later I was flying home to see my parents and that was when it was hitting me a bit more. As I got through airport security I was greeted by the beautiful voice of a local artist playing guitar and singing. I am sure the people around there thought I was crazy (and I won’t disagree with them) but I went and sat there by myself and cried. All I kept thinking was how fortunate I am to be here right now. How blessed I am that I can sit here and listen to such beautiful music. I wanted to go tell the guy what I’d been through and how much I appreciated his lovely and soothing voice, but I figured that would just be disruptive. Instead I opted for a subtler way of showing my interest, and when I calmed down I went and bought a couple of his CD’s. After listening to him for almost two hours I got on the flight and landed back in Winnipeg where my dad was picking me up. He held my hand for the whole drive home, and even though I’m not a touchy-feely person, I let him, because I was so happy that I got to see him again. When we got to my moms place she ran outside to give me a big hug. And as we walked in the house I saw my favorite girl wagging her tail and whining and I started to cry. All of these people in my life that I couldn’t imagine not seeing again, and that I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to.
I know I’ve struggled since the accident, and I would be lying if I said I managed to stay positive the whole time. I once cried in Walmart because a bus driver was rude to me, and it pissed me off cause I’d rather be driving myself to Walmart than taking a bus with that lousy man anyway! I also struggled because I felt like I didn’t need this lesson again… since I learnt so much about life when I lost Derek. I struggled with planning my schedule around bus times or my friends work schedule (so I could skip the bus) and feeling like I was so dependent on everyone else. I felt like I didn’t really bring anything to the table anymore, and it was hard to not be annoying when I always needed to know their schedules to plan my own things. So it wasn’t super easy, but I realized that those problems really are minor. One day when I was feeling really bad for myself I had to get myself in check and remember that I could’ve been stuck in bed with broken bones, or I could’ve died, and then none of these minor inconveniences would’ve mattered. And that was not the solution I wanted either.
The moral of my story is that these are the moments. The moments that make you really appreciate all that you’ve been given in life, and that make you realize how fast it can all be taken from you. I don’t know if everyone gets such drastic reminders as I feel I do – but the small reminders are always there too. They remind us to stop and take a look around. To enjoy the moment and find the beauty around us, because there is beauty in every moment! They remind us that life happens fast and no matter how much control you think you have – you really don’t. And by reminding us how quickly something can happen – we are reminded that our happiness is what’s most important in life. Because you never know when your last day is, so you might as well choose to be happy.
The day is still young… what will you choose?
Leave a comment of something you are grateful for right now – or remind friends and family to practice more gratitude by sharing this post!
This blog originally appeared on BeingKarmic.com