25 Mar

And We Watch


Imagine, you’re on your way to a job interview. You’ve been short listed and rejected so many times you’ve almost given up. This time though, you feel good about it, you’re dressed in your best interview outfit and you feel like it might be the one.

You’re standing at the curb waiting for the light to change so you can cross the street. The crowd behind you surges and you feel yourself being pushed and you can’t stop it. You fall forward onto the street and as you fall, you look to your left and see the headlights of a small blue car bearing down on you. You hear it rather than feel it, like an out of body experience you see yourself flying through the air, cars, people and buildings roll before you like a movie reel.

The force of the collision shatters your bones. It breaks your skin and causes damage to your insides. You lie in the middle of the intersection, the cold wet pavement against your cheek, a warm sensation trickles down the back of your head. You’re still conscious but in shock. The world still moves around you in slow motion. As you watch the people on the streets, there’s a long pause, many have their phones out and are filming you, others are taking pictures – you realize for a brief moment that you’re the show.

You know they’re thinking about uploading you to the internet and sharing your pain. Some will add rants to show they’re caring individuals. Others will take it up as a cause to show the world that they’ve got some compassion. A few will upload simply because they want to be first to bring shock and awe to an already jaded audience. Then there’s the ones who think it’s their job to report the news – as if a single person’s pain means anything to complete strangers. Few see it as their responsibility to get involved, its not their problem. Amazingly though, they see it as their right to capture  and share.

As the world returns to real time, several people run towards you. There’s no phone in their hands, no thoughts about viral fame. They see another human being suffering and want to help. You’re a person just like them; you are family. They talk to you in soothing tones, ask how you feel and try to comfort you. The wail of an ambulance draws closer. You close your eyes and let go, you’re not alone anymore.

There was a time that everyone felt this way, now it seems the majority of us only care about ourselves. Who are you?

15 Jan

Isn’t this Someone Else’s Mess?


We all make bad choices, and often shit happens as a result. Not the good kind but the stuff you’d rather forget. The type of bad decisions that change your life and leave you in a place that you have to struggle to get out of.

My first reaction is always to do a quick analysis: how bad did I screw up, what’s the fall-out and can I minimize it real quick? If the answer to question three is yes, I get on with fixing things and dance all day because I was lucky, if it’s no, then it’s time for some damage control. I start thinking about blame – was this somebody else’s fault, is there a way that I’m not the one who threw the switch and created the mess? As much as that kind of solution makes me feel better though, the truth is, it’s my stuff to own. Once I get past the analysis/denial/acceptance phase, I truly start beating myself up; why didn’t I think of the potential problems beforehand, why didn’t I listen to my wife, why couldn’t I see the writing right in front of me? Usually with me it comes down to two or three habitual screw ups: I was in a hurry, I was being lazy or worst-of-all, I was willing to sacrifice the best outcome for the quickest (read: instant gratification).

I say all this, not because I spend my whole life making lefts when I should be turning right, I think I run a pretty balanced portfolio! I say this because I was reading a post on a blog I like very much and came across a new perspective on our life when things go wrong and we’re forced to deal with major consequences. The site’s MarcandAngel.com and the post I was reading was 12 Ways to turn your Wounds into Wisdom and strength. Number four on the list of twelve was, “View Every Challenge as an Educational Assignment – Ask yourself: “What is this situation meant to teach me?” Every situation in our lives has a lesson to teach us”. 

I thought about my own challenges and some decisions  I’d made over  the past year. They weren’t existence threatening, but they had complicated my life and set me back a few years. Since making those decisions, I’ve spent countless hours thinking about where I’ve landed and how I could lighten the load I feel each day on my shoulders.

Why not, I  opened my notebook and asked myself the same question,“What’s this situation meant to teach me?” I started writing and the words came easy, not the answers that were right or safe but the honest ones, the ones I don’t like to admit or take blame for. When you approach your mistakes as a challenge – an opportunity to learn, it’s much easier to say what your really thinking. It doesn’t feel as personal and the objective is now a positive one; rather than strapping on bad weight, I found myself excited to write down the answers so I could begin to create some value from my mistakes.

Reading back my answers, I realized two things. First, nothing’s insurmountable; the thoughts that have rolled around in my middle-of-the-night brain for the past year, while challenging are absolutely surmountable. Most importantly, our lives are on paths littered with crossroads, we’re never going to get every decision right – that isn’t the point, each intersection is just another step along the way. The knowledge to hold tight, is that life is mostly long and we will face challenges all the way through it. For most of us the results won’t be terminal, they can be a challenge but not often do they signal the end. Our success or failure in navigating these crossroads isn’t getting all the answers right, it’s finding the right answers when we’re wrong. So, do we suffer in our heads and stay imprisoned by our mistakes or do we learn and rise up a better person… the choice is ours.