Frustrated from an afternoon of struggling with back-to-back “terrible two’s” episodes with our toddler, I enlisted the housekeeper’s help and left to get groceries. I didn’t need much at the store, actually. It was more just to get out; a motherhood break to catch my breath and re-gain composure. (Do other people run errands when they don’t need to)?
Driving down the highway, I glanced left to see what I thought was initially a bundle of clothes, but then did a double-take to see a man face-down, dead on the side of the road. My mouth agape in shock and awe, I could hardly register what I was seeing. Relieved to see a cop behind me (we were the only cars around), I watched him drive right by, not slowing or turning on sirens, or even turning off on the next exit, as if he had seen a dead deer on the road instead.
I re-played this over and over in my mind all day. When I recounted this to a Swazi friend, he simply said, ” You are in Africa. This is not a humane place,” which did not put my mind at ease.
On the last morning of that man’s life, I wonder if he did anything out of the ordinary? If he knew somehow that his time would expire that day? This quick shift of perspective certainly made me stop and realize how much I take for granted, and erased any complaints and negativity in my head.
I retreated into my thoughts for a few days, formulating question after question. If this were my last day, what would I do differently? Am I leaving anything left unsaid or undone that I would regret? Why do I fritter my time away? There is so much I want to accomplish and learn and explore in this life- what am I waiting for? Why do I pick up toys when I could be squeezing that baby more and doing fun things instead?
And, ultimately, why does it take such a rude awakening to refocus on the important things? Time seemed to stop that day. In a pondering daze, I sought solace in being outdoors. I watched birds perched gracefully on a thin branch, bobbing in the wind; a metaphor for the delicate balance of life.
When my internal compass gets thrown off, I try to:
Remember to Breathe. Surrender. Let Go.
Find quiet time for creativity to incubate.
Spend more time connecting with friends and family.
Play music and do some yoga stretches or dance.
Seek out the beauty in the small things.
Be still and listen.
Take a bubble bath.
Bake something to make the house smell good.
Sit outdoors in the sunshine.
Make tea and read something inspirational.
Start an art project.
Focus on the fun, not the fear.
What do you do when life throws you off-kilter?
Carpe Diem, friends. Go and enjoy THIS AMAZING LIFE.