Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Leave the Party Early, at Least With No Regrets

A teenager died in my city last week and it turned out to be a relative of a coworker. She was driving in her car and her boyfriend was driving caravan-style behind her. I believe there were no drugs or drinking involved, she wasn't exceeding the speed limit, and the weather wasn't that bad. But she hit a patch of ice and her car started fishtailing, and she went across the road into oncoming traffic and was hit by another car. She died later that night.

I didn't know her, but I can't stop thinking about her. She was nineteen and she worked at a bank just a mile from my house. I've been thinking of how you never know what is just around the corner, and I've been wondering what I believe that should mean to me right now. (I believe that will mean different things to different people, and that's ok, but I want to know what it means to me.) I've been wondering about what it's like to be the parent of a nineteen year old who is there one day and gone the next, and how I can honor her life by learning from what has happened and letting that impact mine.

I've also been thinking about how much I'm worrying about my job and other things lately, and I've been relating it back to the tragedy. What if I go earlier than expected? I plan on lasting 120 years and dying on a beach somewhere while reading a great book and sipping a watermelon margarita, with about three cabana boys fanning me. But if it doesn't work out in that exact way, what does that mean for me today? I've been thinking of the question - what kind of life do I want to live? It's important to me. And when I've been thinking about it, I've been getting frustrated because I don't live in a world that really comes together in a way that supports the kind of life I wish I could live. (Assholes at work are the latest people getting in the way of my utopia, but there's no shortage of people and events on that list.) It's hard to describe. I want to be positive, I want to be healthy and have a positive impact on things, people, the world. But I'm just little old me. And never mind the world, how can I really shape my own life? I don't totally understand where I'm going with this and the thinking I've been doing since hearing about the terrible accident, but it's something about taking real responsibility for myself and my actions and not going on auto-pilot.

Today while I was on the way to work, I passed a car that was broken down on the side of the road in about 2 feet of snow. When I drove by it I felt angry and I thought, "I wish I lived in the kind of world where I could stop and help whoever that is." But I know girls aren't supposed to stop and help strangers. And then I thought of the quote that I think Matter introduced me to by openly gay congresswoman Tammy Baldwin. It's something about "If you want to live in a world where you can put a picture of your partner on your desk, put a picture of your partner on your desk and you will live in that world."

Of course, I decided that I was going to live in a world where I can stop to offer help to someone, and I flipped a U-turn and did so. It was a small step, but it helped reinforce that I can continue to decide and create the kind of world I want to live in and the kind of life I want to live. Whether I have 70 years or 7 hours left to go.

New favorite song: Beautiful World by Colin Hay


  1. i love that quote by tammy baldwin. so very true. good for you. this has inspired me. thanks!

  2. Tragedies like this, and holidays, generally get us thinking about how better to live our lives. It's so easy to return to the feeding trough of work and rent/mortgage and then "wake up" again a year later thinking the same thoughts. Good for you for writing these thoughts down now, for your sake (and ours).

    120? I want to see this solar system out, travel to another galaxy, but the Cabana boys sound like a good plan, too, and possibly more realistic.

    Well done for stopping to help that person. Yes, of course there are risks when you interact with strangers, but you and Tammy are right in that WE create the world we live in.

    Thanks for the inspiration. I've got to get my autopilot disengaged permanently!

  3. Greg, you said it so much better and more succinctly than I did! See? Long story longer. Maybe I could write the posts and you could interpret them for everyone else. :)

  4. You done good, girl.

    My own goal in life is to practice compassion - from the Hebrew word "racham", which contains many meanings, among them love, mercy, and womb. See Isaiah 46, 3-4.

    On another note, could I be one of your cabana boys?

  5. good for you dangit. that's fantastic. i'd like to believe that we can build the world we want, but then the pessimistic side of me steps in and kicks the optimistic side's ass and i'm left feeling all curmudgeon-y.

    but, baby steps, right? good for you for trying.

  6. I'm so proud of you. Live in the world you want to live in.

  7. Such a great post, LSL. And more importantly, from your post, many will be inspired "to live the world they want to live in."

    Doesn't posts like this one makes having a blog even more meaningful?

    And about the cabana boys... I am so going to have an audition for them. Oh, this just make growing old so much more fun.

  8. Glenn, that was part of the plan.

  9. One person can make a difference and you made a difference in that's person life and your own that day! We all need to be more like that and help one another out. I was watching a dvd the other day with my 3 little girls and it was the history of Disneyland. "That's the man who created Mickey Mouse and Disneyland!...see, one person CAN make a difference." Let's all try!

  10. A local tragedy here has me thinking similar thoughts--a 9 year-old boy died in a fire trying to rescue his pets. But he showed love and compassion to the end.

    As for having a positive impact on people, I think everyone who read this post is feeling that.

  11. You blow me away young lady. I am inspired by your insight and courage. You did what some of us could only think to do. Instead of saying "Oh, I could or should go back and help" you actually did. Bravo.

    Could you not start an internet radio show. I would listen.

    Happy holidays to you and all your loyal readers K.

    Denys - Sydney, Australia.

  12. I've been thinking of how you never know what is just around the corner, and I've been wondering what I believe that should mean to me right now.

    thank you for bringing this up for me. i have much to think about today.

    meanwhile, you're traipsing across the world, living your life Right Now! in a magnificent way.

  13. Hey..I'm catching up after MIA for awhile. Yeah. live in the world we want to live in. You've inspired me, also. And I have to tell know how you feel now? Wait until you're 59. Holy crap. My friends are dying all around me and it's freaking me out. How much time could I possibly have left? six years? twenty six years? I used to think it was so stupid when I would hear some old person say "youth is wasted on the young" and I would think oh, here we go...and you had to walk two miles to school, blah lbah blah blah blah. Well, let me tell you...youth is wasted on the young.