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11/10/2012

Being Grateful for Curve Balls in the Face

This post isn't Astronomy related.  This post isn't about my wonderful new telescope (I'll post on that in a moment).  This post is about how fragile life is and how we have to treasure each and every moment. It is about capturing a moment spent in the desert with the wonders of the universe. It is about sharing time with friends and family.  It is about cherishing both the good, the wonderful, the bad and the ugly times in our lives. It is about how we look at situations and hopefully are better.

I played baseball in my youth and I saw times when a batter would take a pitch that would hit them. One such pitch hit a batter in the face, causing some broken bones and taking him out of the starting lineup for some time. I think life is like that at times. We are cruising and things are going well, or things are just going or perhaps they are not going, when BAM! Life hits us face on with something unexpected, something unplanned for and we then have to decide how we are going to react to it. Will we get angry, cross, disgusted, hateful or will we face it and make the best out of it? Will we try to use it to measure our own character, to measure how we have grown as a human being?

In my youth I was very impatient, very resentful, and the material things I had mattered a lot to me. I was brought up by a wonderful father, but like all father's, an imperfect father. My father was a perfectionist and as he taught me to do something, if I did it wrong that was unacceptable. It made some aspects of my youth very hard to deal with.  Anyway, as a young adult in my 20's and early 30's I found that I was still trying to prove that I didn't make mistakes (and yet I made many of them) and I was intolerant of the mistakes of others. As my daughter and son were born, I realized that I did not want them to have this trait in their lives, so I realized I had to change. I wish it had been an easy change, but the change came slowly, over time, like the growth of a tree. At times I was very patient with my children, at times I wasn't. I did let them know though when I did make mistakes, and I apologized for my mistakes and let them know that I was working to improve myself.  Yes, my children grew up knowing I was imperfect, and yes, I apologized to them (still do) when I make a mistake involving them.  It's made for a fun and eventful relationship as they respectfully let me know now when I mess up, and using humor, we usually enjoy the interaction and the apology that goes with the ribbing. More importantly, my children know today that I am not the father I was 20 years ago and that I have improved, become better and they recognize that growth. For me, I hope that is a legacy that stays with them. Today, I had the opportunity to test my own character in terms of being patient, understanding and caring in the midst of a difficult situation or a "fastball in the face" as I put it.

      Today, my wife and I were driving to a medical appointment that she has every Saturday in Salt Lake City.  Today, we took her new Nissan Altima Hybrid that I purchased for her this summer because of the gas savings.  Now yesterday and today it has been snowing here in northern Utah. In my backyard I have about a foot of snow for the two days (I haven't measured it yet).  So it was snowing when I got on I-15 going northbound and at one point, near what we call 106th or 10600 South on ramp, three snow plows entered the freeway and went all the way over to the left to the HOV lanes.  I was in the middle lane and as traffic slowed, so did I, down to about 45 to 50 mph.  I was considering a lane change, which I was unable to do as traffic was in the lane next to me on my right as was the third snow plow.  Suddenly BOOM! Instantly  knew we had been rear ended and I looked in my rear view mirror to see a woman in her mid twenties in a late 1990's Altima on the phone and trying to follow us.  In Utah we have new directions from the Highway Patrol that if our car is driveable, to drive to the next exit and get off so we don't cause congestion or further accidents. As our new Altima was driving and holding up, I did just that. The young woman did not follow us, as her engine stalled. Lucky for us she was honest and saw the UHP trooper and followed him right to us, taking responsibility for what she had done. Here is what the car looks like from the rear.





Here is a closer look at the damage. You can see exactly where she nailed us, making an unsafe lane change into us. 





Now a look at the left rear fender.  



Now, at this point, the UHP hadn't arrived though we had called them, and they had dispatched. The young woman hadn't showed up either and we thought we were a victim of a hit and run. My wife was talking to the insurance as a migraine started to come on her and by bad low back is radiating pain after being pain free forever.  Anyway, I called my son as I thought the car may have to be towed and Nathan was amazed at how calm I was.  The officer showed up from the UHP and began to gather our information and to have me write a witness statement.  Shortly there after, like in 5 minutes the young woman showed up and the officer worked with her. I want to compliment the officer who handled the case. He had a wonderful sense of humor that was used correctly to bring humor to the situation. My wife and I were not angry, we simply now want her car fixed/repaired to what it was before and we want any medical issues we may have taken care of.

Now let me state upfront the young lady took responsibility and drove around the 90th South exit to find us (though following the UHP helped, she had to finish finding us on her own I believe) and then drove in and everything went smoothly! More importantly it was nice to see a honest person who took responsibility for the mistake she made, though it will impact her financially. I would truly hope that all of us in life would accept responsibility for the mistakes we make if they cause injury to someone be it financial or other ways. We are grateful for her. 

Next, we are grateful for the new Altima we were in. When we were hit on our left rear end, we did not enter a spin which would not have been good as we had a heavy duty snow plow next to us. We also did not  break down on the road, but he car performed as designed and took the damage. My seat released and went back in the accident, hurting my back pretty good but that was it. Air bags did not deploy and both my wife and I survived.  That, not having caused a major traffic accident is also something to be grateful for.  Now don't take me wrong, both my wife and I wish the accident hadn't happen at all and we could have made the medical appointment. However, insurance is already processing the claim, our car will be going in next week to make. So given everything that happen, we are grateful for the minimal impact as of now on our lives. 

The last thing I'll share is of a personal nature. At 47 I have grown far more patient in dealing with others than I was in my youth. I fear, shamefully that 20 years had this happen I would have been livid and very upset. I fear that I would not have remained in control and would have said things I regretted later.  Today as my son and wife could tell you I remained calm, concerned and positive.  For me that is perhaps proof that I at 47, am finally starting to grow up.  It is a shame wisdom comes for me at middle age. I would have preferred to have been this wise at 27 and 37.  See I view it this way. A car is a car, it is a thing. It is not alive, it is just a thing. Yes, we like the car, that is why we purchased it.  Yes, we would prefer our car not to have been hit. Yes, it can impact the resale or the trade in value (but we keep our cars and drive them til they die anyway) but in the end, it is still just a thing, just a car. The thing that is important is that the young woman is okay, that we are both okay (back is hurting) and the "thing/cars" can be repaired.  I fear in the past I would have been too caught up in the "thing."  Things aren't important in the end. In the end it is how we react in a stressful or negative situation that I believe shows our character and our own belief system. Not too toot my horn, but I guess I am, but in the interest of sharing, I realized that in my own journey in life, I've reached a milestone, where anger, negativity are not what I want to be. I still have a ways to go on this, but it was nice to see I didn't react that way here.  

So as you enter this season of thankfulness, please remember what you have to be thankful for. I am grateful today, for a wife that is okay (so far we hope), that we were not critically injured or killed, and that the young woman who caused the incident was honest, taking responsibility and more important, is okay as well. I am grateful for a son who was willing to go in late for the first time to work and come and pick us up (he didn't have to).  I am grateful for a UHP officer who had a great sense of humor and at the end wished my wife and I to have a "Good Day" and then quickly revised it and using great tact and his wits said "Have a MUCH better day."  Finally I am grateful that I can see my own personal growth and development to improve myself.  So when life throws one of those inside curve balls that hit you in the face, square on, please try to remember what you do have to be grateful for. I think it makes a world of difference. I also think I and probably most of us need to exercise a better sense of calm, understanding and caring towards each other all year round. It makes for a better world.  Here's to that, being grateful and making the world we live in, the place we reside, a better place for ourselves, our loved ones and friends, and those around us.  Now, I sure hope my back clears up. I'll try to post up on my Tuesday and Wednesday observing sessions and then I have a video to post on the scope from when we put it together.  Cheers and be safe out there! 

Jay


3 comments:

  1. I'm glad to hear you and your wife is OK. Your posting was heartfelt and honest. Stay well.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous11/12/2012

    Jay, sorry to hear about your accident this weekend. As you know the first snow of the year can get ugly, traffic wise. I believe the final count was 117 accidents in the Wasatch Front over the weekend. Very glad to hear that you and your wife are okay.

    I enjoyed your words about staying calm and in control.

    Really hope your back perks back up quickly.

    Take care,

    Mat

    ReplyDelete
  3. Anonymous12/27/2012

    Jay, would you say that your serenity comes partly from the practice of Astronomy?

    ReplyDelete