Friday, June 10, 2011

Paradigm Shift

"Seize the moment. 'Cause tommorow you might be dead."
—Buffy Summers, S1Ep1 Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy had amazing insight into how to live life for a teenage girl. And while this is wisdom from a fictional character, the quote stands as a very good way to live one's life.

A couple of days ago, I was in a car accident. Nothing too serious, I assure you. I'm fine, though my car is currently at the body shop having the damage assessed. The other guy was not nearly so lucky. For a motorcyclist, he was not practicing safe driving by hurling down a street in front of a school well in excess of the speed limit, and paid the price for his lapse in judgment. That didn't stop him from getting back on his bike, despite suffering heavy injury to the leg that got trapped under the motorcycle, and speeding off to put more lives in danger. Blood loss + reckless driving = another accident waiting to happen.

In the aftermath of the accident, I've been reflecting on how it could have been much, much worse for both me and the guy who hit me. Thankfully, none of the kids getting out of school at that time were injured. My car was damaged, but not nearly as much as it could have been. And, of course, my lack of physical injury could just as easily have gone the other way if the motorcycle's trajectory had been different, or if I'd been moving instead of stopped at a red light.

We go through life never really understanding that it can all change in one catastrophic moment, and not even through any consequence of our actions beyond being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I used to envision certain dangerous events that could happen in the course of stepping outside my front door for use in my writing, but it's something else entirely when one of those scenarios comes true. This is not the product of my overactive imagination. This is real catastrophe, with real consequences and a very real impact on my life.

I haven't really been in my right mind since that day, and I'm fortunate to be surrounded by wonderful people who love and care about me enough to look out for me and help me through this ordeal. I think part of that altered mindset is that I'm going through a paradigm shift, for lack of better phrasing, a change in my way of thinking in the face of a dramatic and life-changing moment. Old assumptions are being cast aside as a new reality asserts itself in my way of thinking, a reality that I'm still trying to come to terms with.

I'm not sure where my writing fits into this reality, but I know that I've come too far to simply declare it insignificant in the grand scheme of things. I want to revisit parts of my trilogy and write all new stories, now that I have a different vantage point on potentially life-threatening moments that might occur within the course of the narrative, but I don't know if I'm ready to tackle it so soon after the accident. Naturally, I'll keep you all posted here once things settle down and my life isn't in upheaval.

Have you had a brush with fate that changed your way of living, or been close to someone who has? Share your stories in the comments below.

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