Accidents. You never know when they are going to happen. I guess that’s why they are called accidents. They can happen in a split second and will change your life forever. To what extent varies, however once that split second decision made, fate is put into motion and you are left to deal with the results. I learned this lesson first hand eight weeks ago. This decision, in my case, meant picking myself up from the tar and untangling myself from my bike.
Prior to my accident, I thought I was fortunate to never have experienced any major accidents in my life. Perhaps this way of thinking was optimistic or unrealistic and I’m not saying that you should go out and have an accident but what I am saying is for me, it was a much needed slap in the face (or more literally, scrape of the face) that I needed for my eyes to be opened.
Before I go any further, I’ll share a few details. It was a beautiful Sunday morning September 8th to be exact, and my girlfriend Lynda and I planned to bike the St. Paul Bike Classic as a fun girls day out. As we were biking to the registration area, I hit the front brake too quickly and flew over the front of my bike only to land on my face. My initial reaction was “what happened?” paired with “crap, that was stupid, but I’m okay”….until Lynda turned around (she was biking ahead of me) and quickly announced I was bleeding.
I managed to land myself in the emergency room with 25 stitches in my chin and upper lip, and one heck of a fat lip. It’s times like this when you know who your real friends are. Lynda drove me to the hospital, helped get me checked in, sat with me during all the evaluations and stitching up. We joked about how the accident will be a story we will be able to tell our grandchildren (when we get them) ….the “remember when grandma had to take grandma to the emergency room and get her face stitched up?” kind of story.
Nine weeks later the swelling has gone down and the stitches have healed and I am very grateful to walk away with minimal visible signs of the accident. Most of my body has healed and while there will be some ongoing issues with my teeth, for the most part I’m good.
What I have learned is that sometimes it is those accidents, those times when you fall flat on your face (in my case literally) that you are forced to slow down. To take a step back and evaluate your life and where you are going and who and what is important.
While I spent the better part of six weeks in a fog, that forced slowdown was a blessing. In many ways I’m better than I was before my accident. The accident forced me to slow down. I had no choice. My body did not allow me to do much of anything and anything extra was out of the question.
Even in the haze of my concussion, I found time to think. Think clearer than I have in a long time. Think about what is important in life. Family. Good friends. People who care about you and people you care about that you may not even know it yet.
Giving back. It helped me to realize the importance of sharing with others. Mentoring. Taking those gifts and blessings that we’ve been fortunate enough to experience and sharing them with others. My accident gave me time to think about how many wonderful people have taken the time to mentor me in one way or another. How the time they spent with me changed my life. How the words they spoke gave me new perspective that opened a door in my mind to a new way of thinking. New experiences. I’ve found new passions and desires and I’ve definitely learned that life is a blessing that can change in a second. It helped me realize that life is short and giving and sharing are important and there is no time like the present.