Awake with appreciation: Life's 'close calls' open our eyes
Broken friendships. Shattered love stories. Unexpected heart attacks. Fatal car accidents. Mass shootings. Just a few of life's tragedies that leave us fighting for the next inhale to grasp clarity and keep our head above water.
For some, the pain is vivid — adulterous emails, diagnosis letters and caskets quickly cut through the denial we cling to so tightly.
For many of us blessed with sheer luck, these momentary scares stop us dead in our tracks. The "could've beens" are blinding. We whisper, "Thank God for forgiveness," "That could've been life-changing" or perhaps, "Just another inch to the left and it would've been a different story."
Almost simultaneously, our all-encompassing gratitude for the best outcome provides a necessary reprieve from looming work deadlines and the need to feel busy. It seems a "close call" is the only alarm loud enough to grab our attention or bring us to our knees. It wakes us from the monotonous assembly line of everyday life, encouraging us to stop and ponder, "What would life be like without him?" or "What if she wasn't here tomorrow?"
This time the world spared a friendship, a rocky relationship or even a life, but there's no guarantee tomorrow will be quite as forgiving. Tomorrow has its own agenda — one which we can't control. It has the ability to create unbelievable opportunities or steal our loved ones.
But in the moment, we have power. We have the ability to make every word, action and interaction count. It may be as simple as a handwritten letter, a late-night phone call or 30 seconds spared to run back into the house to grab that goodbye kiss. It can be as difficult as asking for forgiveness or sharing a loved one's last moment of life.
At 20-something, we're busy celebrating birthdays, attending weddings and adding community involvement to our resumes. Often we're so busy we forget what's good for us, what our priorities look like and even who we care about. As we chase our wildest dreams, it's easy to view the glass as half full, eyes wide with excitement for a future full of opportunities. But before we blink, those around us may vanish.
In the meantime, we must savor every second of life, appreciating every spared life before it's gone in a flash.