I just had the opposite of deja vu. Veja du?
Instead of feeling like I’d already experienced a current moment, I had an awareness that one day, years into the future, I’ll remember this moment, right now.
I live a charmed life, much of which is due to luck and circumstance. I probably take for granted things that others pray for, and a lot of the time this makes me feel safe and lucky and immune to “really bad stuff.” That’s just a mental security blanket though, it doesn’t keep me any safer than sleeping with a night light did as a kid.
Tonight when I read a beautiful and emotionally charged narrative I was overcome with a pinball machine of emotions, a mix of awe and fear that made me sweaty and nauseas. It was a moment that made me realize shit, I really am an adult and I have to face the fact that stuff like this happens. All the time. To people like me.
It’s not that I don’t hear a dozen troubling stories a day, I can tell you a LOT of things that are wrong in the world, but hearing about ones I actually can relate to, ones in my own neighborhood or with people like me? Those bad things that you can’t prepare for or prevent–they’re the ones that keep me up at night.
After reading this story I couldn’t help but think oh my god, what if this happened to me? What would I do, how would I get through it? My thoughts spiraled from contemplating death to more worrisome minutiae that left me in tears. Who would walk my dogs if I had to stay in the hospital indefinitely? Who would make dinner for Jim? There are so many places I need to visit and things I want to do.
As I traipsed through self-imposed halls of anxiety, I realized how ineffective a use of my time it was. I also realized that people probably fear terrible events for two very different reasons. Some might worry about never getting a chance to do certain things, achieve different goals or experience items on a bucket list. On the other hand, and in the category I’d place myself into, other people worry about not getting to continue all the things they love and have accomplished–suddenly having the great stuff cut short.
It rocked me to realize how unbelievably fortunate I am to be among the percentage of people who have enough wonderful experiences and things in life to know what it wold be like to lose them. My future dreams wouldn’t be cut short, I’d just have to deal with less of the amazingness I already have. This is not to say I take any of my blessings lightly, because I do not know how I would go on without the people I love and things I value, but nevertheless, the thought process had a powerfully calming sensation.
Life is short and exquisite. The best thing to do is celebrate it, however you like. It doesn’t have to be a frantic, carpe diem pursuit of adventure, it’s about enjoying what’s already yours. If you’re lucky enough to reach a point where you have people and things you can’t imagine living without, that in itself is the greatest gift.