My family (me, my wife Sheila, daughter Marissa and dog Rinny) was involved in a car accident and we almost died.
UPDATE: We are fine. No blood. Didn't get taken away in an ambulance.
Since we literally walked away from the crash unscathed and the damage to my car is merely a busted back end with the rest of the car looking pretty normal, it might seem a bit melodramatic to say we almost died. But maybe an inch one way or the other, and things would be drastically different.
What I do know, is the experience was enough for me to think about some things. Most of all, it made me think about the phrase “giving up.” It made me think about the many times we have in life to give up or persevere.
There was a moment during the accident when I decided to not give up. It probably saved our lives.
Driving south on I-15 on a Saturday night just after 7 p.m., I looked up in my rear view mirror and saw a brown pick-up truck coming toward me at a high rate of speed. It was like a guided missile headed straight toward its target.
In a matter of seconds I felt an impact, which forced my vehicle into the lane to my right. I was struck a second time, saw the truck flying off the freeway into the grass, my car fishtailed out of control and was headed directly toward a barrier made of solid concrete.
I remember thinking it’s going to suck to hit this wall head on. I heard Sheila screaming. But I also felt a sense of calm.
I gripped that steering wheel so hard. I turned it to the right. Turned it to the left. And as fast as it had all started, we were no longer headed toward that wall. My car was on the shoulder, slowing down and safely coming to a stop out of harm's way.
Our daughter was on the verge of tears, our dog was shaking like a massage chair. We were all fine … well at least physically.
In the next 24-48 hours Sheila and I had opportunities to discuss and hypothesize what happened. Everything took place behind us, so we were not entirely certain what unfolded. The whole incident lasted maybe 10 seconds. She recalled as we were sliding toward that wall and thinking her life was about to end.
In our discussion, I also reflected on that moment and discovered my thoughts were different. I didn’t feel as though I was going to die. Like I said earlier, I had this sense of calm. I didn’t have time to think about dying. My priority at that moment was to survive … to ensure everyone in my car would survive. And I was the one person, with control of that steering wheel that was going to make that happen.
That is the beauty of being in control. Whether it is being in control of your career choices, a bicycle you are riding or your car careening toward a slab of concrete. We have the ability to control the outcome. Or at least die trying.
But the moment we give up that control, when we decide the struggle is not worth it, is the moment a part of you or maybe all of you dies.
This past year for me, May ’15 to May ’16 has been amazing. But it hasn’t been perfect. While it’s wrong for me to assume that many of you think it is has been, I’m here to tell you not everything is as awesome as it looks through Instagram filters and Facebook posts.
Sure, I’ve been traveling all over the country, playing music at yoga parties for Fitbit, grand openings for Lululemon, running races with November Project, eating amazing meals and hanging with wonderfuls friends and family.
But here is what hasn’t gone all that great:
- This accident was my second in my entire life. My first was four weeks ago and it was while I was driving my “work van.” That van is still driveable, but I cannot open the liftgate, which makes removing large speakers and turntables road cases difficult.
- For the year 2016, I have had 25 inquiries to DJ a wedding that have not closed with a signed contract. That is well over $30,000 in lost business. That sucks. So contrary to what you may think. I'm not booked "all the time."
- Our rental property tenants just gave their 30-day notice.
- Paydays are not every two weeks for me. That means bill pay isn’t the most fun activity and is sometimes painful.
- I’ve had ill-timed illnesses, like right around the ramp up to training for races I was looking forward to doing.
- I’ve had a few social media ad campaigns that have fallen flat, which means wasted marketing dollars.
And despite all of those missteps and struggles, I’m not giving up. Those things that haven’t gone as planned are opportunities to understand what I can do better. They give me perspective on how I can approach things differently.
When faced with the choice, you decide whether you give up or not. Throughout life you will find yourself headed toward cement walls all the time. It’s what you choose to do in the moment you are about to make contact with that wall. Will you give up? Will you choose life or will you choose certain doom?
Navigating life is hard. Finding success is hard. But neither will have a positive outcome if giving up becomes your norm.
I look at those 10 seconds of that accident as a microcosm of my life right now. A jarring hit, frantic stressful moments, fishtailing toward that wall … but then dodging the obstacle and coming to a stop.
Life brings us days filled with stress and obstacles to hurdle. But we deal with it directly and then take a pause to breathe, reflect and restore.
Those 10 seconds were likely the scariest of my life. But they just might prove to be the most important.