'Did You Get What You Wanted from This Life?'

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
7/28/2010 10:23 AM   :  163 comments   :  18,283 Views

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Last Thursday, I was in a car accident with a close friend. We survived unharmed. Her car was totaled.

It had been raining that night, and we were running late to meet some other friends for a dinner party. As she approached the on-ramp, we hit a pothole. She swerved several times, trying to regain control of the car. We skidded to the left, struck a cement retaining wall, then did a 180-degree turn across three lanes of traffic and hit a second cement wall. Smoke poured from the engine, and gas leaked from below. We looked at each other. We were fine. We were calm. We were thankful.

In the split second before hitting the first wall, I grabbed Jennie's hand, we looked into each other's eyes and braced. "Are you OK?" I asked. "Yes," she replied, "but we're still crashing."

During the entire crash, we didn't see another car and were never in any danger of hitting anything but the cement walls. Immediately after, as we scrambled from the car to safety along the underpass, we noticed how heavy the traffic was--and how fast the cars were traveling. We were going at least 45 mph; within speed limits and slow enough that we would have been OK traveling that road under other circumstances. She and I have each taken that road countless times before.

Truth be told, although we continued on to our dinner party (which had a decidedly different tone), we were quite shaken up, and I still am not fully back to "normal." My body, though uninjured, was stiff and sore. I awoke several times those first nights with a start, having relived the accident in my dreams. As I tried to nap the day after the crash, my body felt like it was swerving.

I've cried, I've panicked, I've pondered the "what-ifs." It replays in my mind, in slow motion. And I continue to ask myself: "And did you get what you wanted from this life?" It comes from an epitaph my friend--the same one I visited in Turkey, the same one who was in the accident--recited as we shared a bottle of wine with friends just a couple of nights before the crash.

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.


With an undergrad degree in creative writing, Jennie always knows just the right words for any occasion. And on this night, as we discussed the future with old friends, she reached for Raymond Carver's epitaph, found on a slip of paper after his death and nearly discarded.

So, indulge me for a moment, as I think about how lucky I am. A dear friend died in a car accident in high school. Several other friends were badly injured in wrecks. My mother has endured 20 years of excruciating back pain due to a car accident. I don't like being in a car, and I avoid driving whenever I can. Yet I walked away from the car calm and healthy, with a deeper sense of trust for my friend. I thanked the universe, called my family to tell them I loved them, and hugged my friend tightly.

I didn't need to ask myself that question. But my answer would be that yes, I did. I do. Every day, I get what I wanted from this life. I love and am loved. I am alive.

Why am I relaying this story to you here, on this blog about healthy living? Well, because without "living," the "healthy" part doesn't matter.

There were times in my life where I simply went through the motions, hoping and praying that the future would arrive quickly and cause my problems to vanish. Today, I realize how precious each and every moment is--even the bad ones.

How many times have you put something off for tomorrow? Do you repeatedly promise to start your new life next week? Ever walk through life in a fog?

Don't wait. Start now. You can't change everything, but you can take the first step.

Henry Miller said it best: "The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware."

Be aware. Be alive.

Have you ever had an experience that really left you thankful to be alive? What was your reaction?


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Comments

  • 163
    I've been in a situation where a robbery took place and I was right next to the person holding the gun. My instinct was to run but I stood there....reflecting years later I am thankful that I was given another chance so that I may be a part of the kingdom of God. It has shown me that this life isn't all there is to living, we will live forever and whether you live for Jesus now and be with Him in eternity or live for the devil now and live with in eternally in hell. God doesn't want anyone to go to hell, we make the choice ourselves by continuously refusing to listen to what the Bible says about asking Jesus to forgive you of your sin and ask Him to be Lord of your life and make a conscious decision to live for Him by reading and obeying the Bible and going to a good Bible teaching church. Yes I live this life to its fullest, but I now have the reassurance that when I leave this place, there's a better life waiting for me. - 9/10/2010   9:17:05 AM
  • GREEKGAL1
    162
    I got chills from reading your blog. Thank God you and your friend were okay. - 8/15/2010   9:33:35 AM
  • GRONAREGRAS
    161
    I feel thankful when reading this touching blog post. Thank you for sharing and bless you and your friend! - 8/3/2010   1:28:36 AM
  • 160
    Thank God you and your friend are alright; and thank you for sharing this food for thought. - 8/2/2010   6:42:45 PM
  • 159
    Thank you for sharing!! - 8/2/2010   12:07:03 PM
  • 158
    Thanks for sharing your story. Your story has touched and encouraged me. You have reminded me that life is precious and the most important things in our lives is to live like you mean it. - 8/2/2010   10:21:14 AM
  • 157
    I have been having serious health problems for the last seven months and it has really affected my outlook on life. I want to thank you for this piece, as it woke me up. I especially love the Raymond Carver quote - it brought tears to my eyes. - 8/2/2010   9:56:17 AM
  • 156
    Wow that's an amazing story! I was in a car accident similar to that when I was in my 20's. My mom and I had just flown from the Ohio to Hawaii for a family reuinion, then we had flown back to Ohio a 10hour flight and my mom's friend picked us up from the airport, and it was wierd because it wasn't raining or anything but my mom's friend went to change lanes on the highway and suddenly lost control and the car went onto a spin, it spinned around at least 2-3 times then the car rolled over at least twice and landed back right side up but on the other side of a fence and on some train tracks. I thought for sure that was it and was bracing myself for the end but thankfully finally the car stopped right side up and we were all okay. No one was hurt and in the meantime some drivers had stopped and called 911 and by the time we got out of the car, people were there asking if we were okay some was telling us not to try to move, the car was totalled and there were these twin women there and my mom thought she was seeing double form the accident! LOL! I told her afterwards no there really was 2 of them! Hahah! I did feel sore all over my body all of my muscles from tensing up all of my muscles during the accident, so I did feel the soreness the next day or so. That was majorly scary and did make me appreciate life after that! We never did find out what made her lose control of the car I guess it was just one of those things that happen. I remember thinking how we had just got off of a plane flying all of those miles then it was when we were on the ground that put us in danger! The people who called 911 thought for sure there were no survivors, I do remember seeing someone come to the car and looking in like they were afraid of what they might see! But thank God we were all okay. :) - 8/2/2010   2:50:44 AM
  • LIDDLEDIDDLE
    155
    all i can say is that your story touched my heart. be safe and enjoy life!! - 8/1/2010   4:21:02 PM
  • 154
    Thank God for wrapping his arms of protection around the both of you during the accident. This was his way of saying there is still work for you to do and lives for you to touch. Thanks so much for sharing your story with us. There is someone out here in cyberworld who needs your testimony to make it through another day. Be Blessed - 8/1/2010   7:56:30 AM
  • 153
    So happy that you and your friend are ok. It takes awhile to recover from that - even when you are "fine". We have much to be grateful for!! donna - 7/31/2010   10:33:13 PM
  • EMMANYC
    152
    There have been enough examples in my own life or those of my loved ones that I should have learned by now how to fully live in the moment. There's my dad, who went out for a drive with his parents when he was 13 - and never went home - because they were hit by a drunk driver, his father was killed and his mother was hospitalized for almost a year. There's my sister, who was working too many hours while taking care of a child and a farm; she fell asleep and drove into a telephone pole. She only suffered minor injuries, although two years later her horse would throw her and almost break her back. There's my mom, who retired at 65 and died at 66, shortly after being diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. She and my dad only enjoyed a year or so of retirement before she died.

    And I've had a few wake-up calls of my own. About 10 years ago, I fell headlong down a flight of stairs - and only suffered a few minor breaks/sprains. And last year, I stood up from my desk and suddenly was overcome by paralysis and excruciating pain - two ruptured discs in my lower back that took almost a year to heal.

    What did I learn? Well, I learned to spend a "little" less time at work. A year or so after my sister's accident, I shifted from an 80-hours per week law practice to a job in the public sector that gave me the time to develop other interests, the opportunity to travel the world - and the time to meet the man of my dreams. I've pursued a few passions, like learning to scuba dive and to speak Spanish. More recently, I focused on weight loss and getting healthy, and have managed to lose 30 pounds and maintain the loss.

    But I still work too hard. At my current job, I work about 60+ hours 6 days per week and could easily do another 20. My job has put me front and centre in the financial crisis, and in its aftermath, I'm grateful to have a job but I wish it was less all-consuming. There are experiences I want to pursue. I know what I should do to make my job less central to my life, but I just haven't done it yet. 20 years, or 5 years, or 1 month from now, will I look back and regret the way I'm spending my days? - 7/31/2010   7:16:36 PM
  • 151
    In our lives I think we have several times that we wonder if we are getting out of life what we wanted. I was in a train accident when I was 16 and came out of it with only a bruised cheek and a broken tooth. I've had times where I could've been in a serious car accident but by the grace of God nothing happened. When my grandpa died I realized I lost the person on earth who loved me the most and unconditionally. And for awhile I savored every moment of every day. But then you begin to adjust back to the every day routine and old habits.

    But now as I've gotten older I value each day and realize that they are speeding by faster than I ever though possible. Each day is a positive day for me but I need to make more time for the people I love. Because in this life all I want is to be loved by my family and friends and to be remembered as a person who was good.

    Thank you for reminding me again to savor each moment, each day. - 7/31/2010   5:46:55 PM
  • DREAMT1
    150
    What a powerful reminder to savor each day, and most especially those we love and who love us. Thanks for sharing. - 7/31/2010   3:59:28 PM
  • 149
    I spent about 20 years of my life being suicidal. I even attempted many times. When I turned 30 years old I had a plan. I have two children and at the time was going through a divorce. I have suffered with depression all of my life. My childhood is full of abuse, neglect and abandonment. I carried that into my adult life. I became addicted to anything that made me sleep because that was my only escape. I had planned on overdosing one week after my youngest 18th birthday. I prayed everynight that I would not have to endure another day because life hurt too much. Not even a month after my 30th birthday God placed someone in my life that has since then helped me see that life although not easy is defenitly worth living. Slowly I became less depressed and really started too look into my life to see why I hurt so badly. I have discovered that I am no longer a victim who has no control over my life. I have slowly fixed the areas in my life that needed improvement. I take better care of myself and I enjoy life that still too this day is not easy but is worth it. No I am no longer suicidal. I did not wake up one day happy and not suicidal. It was just one of those fleeting thoughts that slowly disappeard and has not come back. My oldest is 18 and my youngest is 8. I enjoy every moment with them, along with my husband. We will be celebrating our first year of marraige in a month. I needed a deep intimate connection with another human being and God gave that too me. I also cannot wait for grandkids. Life although difficult at times is defenitly worth living. - 7/31/2010   1:57:09 PM
  • THESLOWESTLOSER
    148
    I had an experience just this morning that made me thankful to be alive. I woke up. I had the same experience the day before, and the day before that. Some days I'm more thankful than others, but every day above ground is a good day.
    I'm so glad you're ok Stepf. You're a tough cookie, coming right back to work. Get some rest this weekend. And if I were you, I wouldn't miss church this Sunday. You have Someone to thank! - 7/30/2010   10:14:24 PM
  • 147
    There was a message in this for the two of you and for all of us who have shared in your experience. In a second, our lives can be gone without any warning. That's why I choose to live each moment as if it were my last for someday I'll be right. My life hasn't been perfect, but I am thankful for parents who prepared me to make my way in the world and survive without whimpering. Mistakes, oh yes, I've made some but I've been right more times than not. I've given of myself to make the lives of others better and have taken bad situations and made them turn out to be good. Each day I walk by faith and I never take a second for granted.

    Thank you for posting such an inspirational story! - 7/30/2010   9:41:05 PM
  • JUDYPOPPINS
    146
    I learned very early in life (my dad died when I was 8) to make the most of each day because you may not get another. So I have no regrets and think of myself as a positive person (even though many negative things have happened in my life...they do not have to make me a negative person..in fact, I've grown spiritually the most during the trying times). I look for the smallest joys...an unexpected flower popping up, a baby smiling, a double rainbow. Joys abound even amidst sorrow and trying times. I am blessed. - 7/30/2010   2:36:10 PM
  • 145
    Wow....I think about this fairly often, not just for me, but for my daughter who passed away a little over 3 years ago from a drug overdose. She had so much potential, and could have gotten anything she wanted out of life, but she wasn't able to beat an enemy that had its teeth in her. I know she's at peace, because she has since told me so, but I still wonder. You are very fortunate to have that second chance. Blessings be with you. - 7/30/2010   1:54:12 PM
  • 144
    Glad you two came through unscathed! But it does make you stop and count your blessings. I always tell my kids and friends, "Don't cry when I am gone because I have lived life to the fullest and am ready to go". - 7/30/2010   1:10:50 PM
  • 143
    I am taking 5 MINUTES OF CONTEMPLATION daily to reflect on all that I am grateful for, including the simple delights that I used to often miss before joining SP. I too LOVE & am LOVED so it's all good (even when times are challenging). - 7/30/2010   12:49:28 PM
  • 142
    I have not gotten everything I've wanted out of life because I've let my weight keep me from it. I've let what I think people would think of me keep me from swimming with them, attending reunions, and being more adventurous. Thanks for the wake up call. It's not too late to live, as long as I'm living. - 7/30/2010   10:59:56 AM
  • 141
    So glad to hear that both you and your friend are ok. Thanks for sharing your experience with us. May God continue to bless you. - 7/30/2010   10:42:35 AM
  • 140
    God still has a plan for you. So thankful you are okay. Does make one think what if. - 7/30/2010   9:28:33 AM
  • RLMCCUE
    139
    Thank you for sharing your experience, I'm so glad you were able to walk away unharmed. You gave me a lot to ponder in your blog. I'm definitely guilty of not living in the moment and always fantasizing of starting my "ideal" life at some future point. I didn't log all my food, made unhealthy choices, and didn't exercise every day, but I don't worry, I'll try again next week. I'm constantly trying to live in the future instead of the present, and your blog brought me back to reality. Thank you and again, I'm glad you and your friend weren't injured. - 7/30/2010   8:59:24 AM
  • 138
    Can't always say I've got what I've wanted. I've tried to make the best of everything I have and stay positive. I had my "wake up call" and am LIVING each day, enjoying the simple pleasures and doing things that perhaps I'd put off before. No time like the present! - 7/30/2010   8:12:49 AM
  • MKELLEY913
    137
    THANKS! I have been through some close calls myself & have long lived in constant gratefulness. I remember at 28 lying paralized in a hospital from my car being hit by a drunk driver. I soon came to accept being THANKFUL IN ALL THINGS & after over a year was able to go home with a hospital bed, nurse, walker & wheel chair. Yes, there were years of pain & recovery but I finally found magnetic products that made me pain free in my 70's. I am the Mother of 2 fine Sons & now have 4 Grandchildren...Now tell me what is there not to be THANKFUL TO GOD FOR?!?!?!? - 7/30/2010   3:14:53 AM
  • TAMANNE1970
    136
    Thank You this is a great blog and has given me lots to ponder.. - 7/30/2010   2:09:18 AM
  • 135
    Sadly, I don't think I have gotten anything I wanted out of life. :( - 7/30/2010   12:01:28 AM
  • 134
    At its best, your new awareness will stay with you to keep you focused. Carlos Casteneda (popular during the 60's) put it this way. Your Death always stands near you, right beside your left shoulder. When you must make a difficult decision--or any decision--look over your shoulder. Look at your death.
    Joy to you, Stepfanie. - 7/29/2010   10:05:33 PM
  • 133
    Wow, what a story. Your guardian angel was certainly looking out for you. I have never been in such a serious accident, but my oldest son has been in two accidents where it was a miracle he survived. He tells me that the same "person" helped him in both accidents. - 7/29/2010   8:38:45 PM
  • 132
    Actually, I have wished many times that I wish I could relive my life all over again beginning with different parents coming up...a total change. There is nothing in my life I would like to take into my next life. - 7/29/2010   8:06:55 PM
  • 131
    I have a few experiences in life that keep things in perspective. One day we will all be pushing up daisies or at least our physical body will. I hope you see in time that it is God you need to thank for your life every day. - 7/29/2010   8:00:12 PM
  • 130
    This life is short, and can change in the twinkling of an eye.
    Death is a doorway. There is eternal life on the other side of the doorway.
    For more info, read your Bible, especially the book of John, or contact me.
    Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life." - 7/29/2010   6:16:54 PM
  • 129
    Thank you for sharing your story. It will stay with you and it sounds as though your guardian angel was right there for you. Each day is precious, treat it with care. - 7/29/2010   5:04:39 PM
  • 128
    I'm so glad that you are o.k. I've never really been in a death defying accident, but I had my husband of 32 years, and my Dad, die before my eyes. It certainly makes you sit up and take notice. I've had friends die before their time as well.
    I feel I've lived a good life, so far, inspite of life's tragedies, which we all have to go through. I've been blessed, have had much love in my life, have a wonderful family, decent health, and with those things, you have everything. - 7/29/2010   4:29:25 PM
  • 127
    I am so glad you are alive!!! Your story is food for thought!!! I hope you do not mind my sharing this on my blog and Face Book as well, with your name on it of course! God bless - 7/29/2010   3:02:23 PM
  • 126
    I'm so glad that you are alright and that this accident led you to new revelations about life and death.
    Have you thought about what happens after this life? You are a child of God and need to have a personal relationship with Him so that you will go to heaven when you do pass away. You have been given another chance at eternal life. We will all live forever...either in Heaven or hell. Your choice. - 7/29/2010   2:59:04 PM
  • 125
    Thank you for sharing this with us. It really makes you think about life and how we live each day. We need to learn to love and cherish each day because you never know when we won't have that any more. I am glad that you and your friend were safe and no harm came to anyone! - 7/29/2010   2:55:01 PM
  • 124
    this is a blog to make you think. In one way, I have been lucky because I have always lived for the most part in the moment. I have never envied others for having more or wished that I could have what they have. I have always found ways to be happy with what I have. I enjoyed my children as they were growing up and I enjoy them just as much as adults. I think that is one of the most important lessons in life. Have goals, but enjoy the journey of getting there. Enjoy what you have, or what you are doing as you go along "stop and smell the roses". If you don't do this you may find that life has passed you by while you were waiting for the good part, never realizing you are living the good part of your life right now. However the one thing I didn't do right was accept myself as I was. When I gained weight, I was always dieting and planning for things I would do after I lost weight. But somewhere along the way, I lost that attitude. I still am on the journey of losing the weight, but I am now doing it for the right reasons. I am losing the weight for myself, to feel better and be able to be more active, not because I am not good enought the way I was. Now I live and do what I want to do while I am losing, not worrying about what other people might think about me or my weight. I like myself for who I am. Thank you for this thought provoking message. We all needed this! - 7/29/2010   2:51:20 PM
  • 123
    So very happy you and your friend were unharmed with this ordeal. Thank you for sharing your experience and heart. - 7/29/2010   2:46:34 PM
  • 122
    Thank you for sharing that experience. - 7/29/2010   2:35:09 PM
  • 121
    Glad you all didnt get hurt. It makes you think not only about this life, but about eternity. what would happen if you died... yes, would you have made a mark on this world? But utimately where would you be if you had died? Life is so short.. like a vapor. I hope we are doing what we can in this life but preparing for the one to come. I hope you all have accepted Jesus Christ personally as your Saviour.. Then your life can count not just here, but in eternity. We had better be ready. - 7/29/2010   2:13:34 PM
  • 120
    I really needed to read this blog at this moment in time. Because my answer to the question "And did you get what you wanted from this life?" so far is no. I have not reached for everything I have wanted. I have held myself back from reaching my full potential. I'm not even sure where I am headed in this life. But I keep waiting for it to reach me, instead of me reaching out for it.

    I am scared by what is out there, but staying within my comfort zone isn't bringing me what I want. So I have to go out there and get it!
    - 7/29/2010   1:28:01 PM
  • 119
    I don't feel like I have got what I wanted from this life "yet". I feel this is what keeps me going through my life and makes me keep going. I believe the day I can say that might be the last day of my physical body. Maybe I am seeing it from another perspective. But I agree each and everyone of us should be living every day like it is the last day of our life...I am amazed at the huge quantity of people who just live for living, without any purpose in life and without any worries or responsibilities, it is incredible. I cannot do that - I always say "learn something new everyday" or do something worthy of having lived... - 7/29/2010   1:18:05 PM
  • 118
    Thank-you for sharing. I'm especially grateful you used the Raymond Carver quote. I've copied it and placed it on my Motivation Board. - 7/29/2010   1:11:20 PM
  • 117
    I'm glad you and your friend weren't hurt. I hope you both still went to see a doctor and get checked. Even though you appear alright on the outside, you should still get checked. I was told by my chiropractor that as the weeks pass and the initial shock wears off, people start to have back problems or neck problems and such stemming from accidents. Keep that in mind in case either of you start feeling that...a common symptom is unexplained headaches... - 7/29/2010   1:08:43 PM
  • 116
    I had an apparent drug addict follow me into my apartment building and attempt to snatch my purse. At the time I was terrified he would follow me into my apartment. We got tangle in the purse strap because I turned to make sure he wouldn't be able to push me into my apartment and he turned to head back the way he came. As I screamed and he ran the purse strap broke, bruising my arm but leaving me safe and with my purse.
    I was so happy to be alive that it really snapped me out of the severe depression I had been in and I started making healthier lifestyle changes gradually over the next year. It started out eating better and communicating with my family and eventually I went back to my doctor and got a new diagnosis of bipolar disorder and got back on psychiatric medications. It was a life-changing event. - 7/29/2010   12:59:18 PM
  • 115
    So glad you are okay. What an experience and a real eye opener. It really makes you stop and think about how quick this life could end and whether the legacy we leave behind is the one we want to leave. - 7/29/2010   12:57:29 PM
  • 114
    I have not had to deal with a major accident or illness myself, but I watched my daughter and brother both deal with terminal illnesses. Both said that they would not change a thing in their lives and they had lived their lives to the fullest.

    Thank you this wonderful blog today. You definitely had an angel sitting on your shoulder last Thursday.

    These experiences have given me an appreciation for life. Someone once asked me if I would have changed anything in my life knowing what I know now - meaning having my daughter - I told them NO!! I would not change one minute of the bad because she brought untold joy into my life. She and my brother lived their lives to the fullest. I can only do the same in mine. - 7/29/2010   12:51:16 PM

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