October 23, 2011 § Leave a comment
Ok so that story got away from me a little, so I’ll try to keep these other two short.
The second story, Regret: One of my high school friends did something to me that really hurt me. It was a betrayal that cut to the very heart of our relationship, and I was very angry for a very long time. He was not the only one to blame in that event that caused me such distress, but I chose to let the other guilty parties off the hook and laid all of the blame squarely on him. I never bothered to get his side of the story, or really talk to him about any of it. I wasn’t willing to even give him the chance to make amends. This was someone that I had been friends with since I was 5 years old. He was my oldest and closest friend, and yet I allowed my hate and anger to destroy our friendship.
We spent months avoiding each other. I badmouthed him behind his back. I turned our mutual friends against him. It got to the point where I believe he even considered transferring schools. My actions ended up being much worse than anything he did in the first place. (Just so you know, eventually I swallowed my pride, let go of my anger, and talked to him. He apologized, I apologized, and after some work, we were able to rebuild our friendship. He is still my best friend.)
I look back on this set of events with deep regret. Do I wish I could have had the capacity to forgive and forget at the time? Yes. But if I really had the chance to rewrite those events in my life would I? No. I had to learn forgiveness. I had to learn how to place aside my own anger and hate. And I had to learn humility.
The third story, Circumstances: Two winters ago I got into a severe skiing accident. I was headed down the mountain, not doing anything crazy, not going super fast, not being stupid, when a little kid wiped out right in front of me. My options were ski to the left and plow into my friend, ski straight on and hit the kid, or swerve to the right into the narrow space between the kid and the forest. I chose to go to the right, and was just about to make it when these three trees jumped out of nowhere–er, well, I guess they probably jumped out of the forest–and ran right into me. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Again, keeping the long story short, I nearly died. Had to get surgery to remove a subdural hematoma. Fortunately everything lined up right and I survived, and suffered no permanent damage aside from headaches and minimal memory loss. Long term, I was just fine.
In the short term however, I was pretty fucked up. I’d slammed into a tree, so I had a hairline fracture on my cheek and jaw, and severely sprained my wrist and knees. I was cut up on my face pretty bad, and had acquired a stylish 14″ head wound from the brain surgery. For the first two or three months I had lots of pain and tremendously bad headaches. I was unable to work for months. My family and friends had gone through hell in that waiting room. And to make matters worse, I was uninsured. I’d racked up over $100,000 in un-payable medical bills.
This event, much more than the other two, is something that I have often wished that I could change. My family and friends wouldn’t have had to go through that horrible moment of thinking I was going to die. I wouldn’t have needed major surgery on my brain. I wouldn’t have had to miss a significant amount of work. And there’s certainly a possibility that I would have avoided the severe depression that followed the recovery period.
I’m pretty sure by now you can guess that I’m going to tell you that even if I had the chance to avoid that tree (either by hitting that kid, or my friend, or maybe by just not going skiing that day), I wouldn’t change anything. That event changed my life. I gained an appreciation for the fragility of life. I learned just how much I mean to those around me. I came out of the depression with a renewed determination to choose to be happy every day.
At the very end of the episode, Captain Picard is discussing the experience with Commander Riker. He says, “as I pulled on the loose threads I found that the tapestry of my life unravelled.” Everything we go through in our lives make up an integral part of who we are; our mistakes, our successes, our failures, our embarrassments, our joys, all contribute to the intricate tapestry of our lives. While I don’t think that we should live carelessly or without regard for consequence, I do feel that it is vitally important that we accept the mistakes that we make as an important structure of who we are.
[Insert clever sign off phrase here]
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