You know how every time a character in a movie needs a change of heart, they witness something that reminds them how short life is?
That just happened to me.
Tonight, I left a regular day at work to go to a regular doctor appointment and then my regular exercise class (spin) and my regular Tuesday night pub trivia. I was feeling super full, having eaten too much sodium paired with a beer, and paid my tab early and left.
Half a mile before home, I was approaching the last big intersection in my route. All of a sudden, I saw a bike flip, and a man wildly roll across the road. He had been hit by a white Prius.
Everyone stopped. There was a three second delay at least. Finally the car right in front of me put on flashers and I saw a woman run out into the road. The man in the car next to her did the same. The Prius pulled to a stop on the other side of the intersection, and the driver at fault ran to the victim as well.
As far as I could tell, the victim was alive. He was unmoving in the road, but in the fetal position, which tells me he was conscious enough to move instinctively. Three drivers and a pedestrian were helping him. The Caltrain was going by. It was chaotic.
The traffic began to build up behind the scene of the accident. I was first in line behind the immediately witnessing cars. I had an easy way to go around the scene, but I felt obligated to stay and stare in shock and empathy. I wasn’t helping at all, but it felt wrong to drive away. Finally, one of the drivers who had stopped to help the victim began directing traffic around the scene. I was the first to take his cue. I was so relieved.
The guy was likely alive and was probably going to stay that way. The reckless driver stopped and did the right thing. But I was still left with a huge, full-being shake-up. This guy had to have been in SO MUCH PAIN. And he was there. Did he have people who would know and care for him? Did he work in an industry where he’d be disabled from his job forever? Moreover, if he did actually die from the collision, where would he end up and would he be good with his life?
This is all WAY too deep for a regular Tuesday night. But I chose to leave early and witness this accident and be reminded that being miserable for some greater end goal is not worth it because a white Prius could hit you on your regular Tuesday night. You can plan for the future all you want but some things just aren’t in your control. Saving money is good. Flossing is good. But doing stuff you hate and believing that this stuff you hate will someday become better is not worth it. Something I hate is my self-taught habit to always apologize for myself. Like my wants and needs aren’t good enough. That’s, uh, insane. Apologizing is good when you’ve done something wrong, but it’s not so good when you are making yourself feel wrong.
So, as I reflect on my movie-plot-device evening, I’m going to go to sleep. At like 9pm. Because I like sleeping more than I like being tired throughout a busy day. I owe it to my colleagues and my loved ones to be bright and ready to support them. And I won’t apologize.