Saturday Dec 29 2007
There’s a place near Fort McLeod in Alberta that goes by this odd name…the Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo Jump world heritage site …where the indigenous peoples used to lead the buffalo to jump off a cliff. A place where there’s a very finite line between life and death…and where life comes from death. You see, for thousands of years, the native people would use this natural geographical formation to ‘harvest’ these wild animals and feed their tribes each winter.
I’m remembering this place today because I’ve been reminded—not so subtly by being in a car accident—that life is the dash between birth and death. The instant I knew my car was spinning out of control yesterday morning, the only thought going through my head was “I surrender to you, God, for I am not in control”. In that moment, I felt like the buffalo must have felt—as if this was the last spurt in that great dash. As if I was surrounded by a vast emptiness of space, flying through the air, without a body and without a connection to the earth. Fortunately, I didn’t smash my head on the rocks at the bottom of the ‘cliff’, no one else was involved or hurt, and I was able to walk away from the car. But I think an ‘old me’—an old way of looking at life—died today.
After I had been through conversations with the ambulance attendants, paramedics, firemen, police, tow truck driver, doctor, pharmacist, insurance company representatives and friends, I was able to reflect on what had happened. I am still in shock and starting to feel very sore, but it has been a good wakeup call.
I'm realizing that I’ve been grateful for the many wonderful people and circumstances of my life…but I’ve forgotten to be grateful for life itself. Yes, life is fired at us point blank—and sometimes I would rather like to fire back what I get. If anything is impossible, that is one thing that is.
Shit happens. Things don’t always work out the way we intend them to. And then we get caught up in our story about our life…replaying how we feel about such and such and so and so and doing everything we can to change what has happened or someone else. In doing so, we forget about the simple joy of being alive.
I admit I’ve been running towards the cliff—avoiding looking at the thin line separating life and death and unaware that I could be joyful for everything, as well as grateful.
This accident has created an opening for me. I speak my gratitude for the accident and for my surviving it at every opportunity. And I truly know that, no matter what happens, being alive is the ultimate blessing.