Archives for the month of: November, 2013

Does it take for us witnessing or experiencing death or tragedy to really begin to appreciate our lives?

Today I was one of the first 20 people on scene to a major accident where a small tour bus went over a bridge and flipped landing face down in the valley below. 10 Chinese tourists were trapped, the drivers body from the neck up crumpled under the door, and all passengers bruised and bloodied. The response was immediate, locals and foreigners alike climbing down through the shrubbery to see what they could do to help. Paramedics had been called but with the nearest hospital over an hour and a half away, we were left to our own devices–problem was no one could communicate with each other with a heavy language barrier between the Balinese and the Chinese passengers in trouble. Those easily accessible and responsive were pulled haphazardly from the wreckage screaming and keeled over in pain. Now I am no doctor, but by the way they were dragged out of the bus and up the hill, I am guessing there wasn’t much thought put into their potential spinal injuries. What’s worse is that a young woman and man crying in pain were then loaded onto the back of a pickup to be taken to the hospital–bumpy roads, no stretcher or support, this could not end well.
I didn’t know how to help. I lent a woman my shoes as she was stumbling up the hill supported by two men so she would at least avoid cutting her feet on more glass. Then I noticed a woman laying face down in the back of the bus. While there were no signs of movement or sound, she was in fact breathing. No one was paying attention to her, her face clearly trapped, but I needed to go to her, at least see if she was responsive, could squeeze my hand, anything. From my experience always being injure, I learned that if you have a concussion you shouldn’t be allowed to sleep. I climbed down, now barefoot, and reached my hand through the shattered back window of the van to grasp her limp arm. She jerked up, grabbed my hand, squeezed in return, and moaned something in Chinese I couldn’t understand. It was heartbreaking. She tried to pull me to help get her out, still crying in pain, but her head was trapped and all she managed to do was almost pull me in with her, cutting my foot in the process–a small price to pay for showing her she was not alone. I gestured and yelled to people that she was alive and trapped but no one seemed to pay any mind as their efforts were focused on an older woman who they had just pulled free.
It had been about an hour and a half. They were yelling that people needed to move since the ambulances were on their way. That meant I needed to leave the lady I was helping and stand back and hope she was ok–that they would be able to get her head out and help her in time. The scene had become a madhouse, with every passerby stopping wanting to know what had happened. The only way to help at this point was follow their requests and leave, letting the professionals do their job and hope and pray everything turned out all right.
Now I am at my friends home, hearing the sirens all across town, sitting with a heavy heart remembering that tug the lady gave my hand. I hope she is all right. You better believe I will be reading the news to find out. I’m not sure how to react, how to feel, whether or not to pray or just hope–I am shaken up. This is my first up close and personal view of a fatal accident as I am sure it was for many of those around me who looked on with disbelief. When terrible things happen one might wonder: Does it take for us witnessing or experiencing death or tragedy to really begin to appreciate our lives? I think in this moment it is important to address this because I don’t know the answer. I love my life, I hope I am grateful enough, do enough good, give back, and don’t take it for granted. It shouldn’t take an experience like this to remind me. But in the case that I haven’t been thankful or vocal enough to all of those that are important to me that I love them, I am taking this moment to do so. Thank you for the support, love, and respect that keeps me going every day. I wish you happiness, health, safety, and love. And if you need me–no matter how big or small it might be–I will do my best to be here and hold your hand, even if I can’t be there physically to do so.

In a book of Buddhist teachings, I came across a quote by Buddah that really intrigued me: “we are already dead, the rest of our life is just a bonus.” What an interesting thought–everything I do, whatever I experience is extra and free–this sure does relieve me of a lot of stress. If I were truly to take this to heart no longer should I be shackled by my ambition, always striving for better, planning, calculating, worrying about money, or any other of these extremely western ideals. I would be much more apt to practice mindfulness, and live present and engaged with the now. I most likely wouldn’t even be taking this time to reflect and write; I would be out sky diving, street racing, or eating a whole cheesecake–indulging in the bonus I have been granted of a post mortal existence.

Yet, somehow this quote resonates differently with me; it curiously induces a stronger sense of guilt and indecision. If I have earned extra credit on my life before death than this induces 3 main channels of thought 1. Let me pat myself on the back–I must of done a really nice job in my past life to deserve this. 2. Oh shit, this is probably my last chance I’m being given to make up for past mistakes before some sort of judgement. And 3. I better make the most of this gift, because I don’t know how much more I have left. So here is where the stress begins to build up again.

So what did Buddah teach me when he told me I was already dead? What am I supposed to learn from the idea of mortal and post mortal becoming indiscernible? That I have no idea what in the world Buddah is talking about? Or that what we are experiencing, whether it is life or after life, is a bonus, beautiful, and we should be present and take advantage of it. I think that lesson is one I can live with. Yikes, does that saying even make any sense if I am already dead?