Do you ever have one of those moments when you’re just trucking along, thinking you know what’s what, and then BAM, something unexpected happens leaving you grasping for purchase, grappling with faith, and gasping for breath?
Maybe it’s a phone call or a knock on the door or a news story/social media post, something that reminds you of the fragility of your morality, the precariousness of life as you know it in this instant. There’s been an accident, a death, a diagnosis, a divorce, a suicide, a crime.
Maybe those afflicted are close to you. Maybe they’re not. Maybe, in some cases, they’re even complete strangers. But what you’re not a stranger to is the lump that sets up shop in the pit of your stomach like a clenched fist. The pall that settles over your heart and spirit. The questions and lamentations lodged in the back of your mind that spin like a playlist on repeat: Why? What if? If only.
Perhaps these feelings even spur you into motion. You act more kindly, give more freely, love more fiercely. You decide that life is too short, time too precious, and energy too valuable to use up on anything that doesn’t meet your criteria for the most important, the most essential.
But then the days fly by as they tend to do, and as one week fades into the next, you find you’ve returned to your old self. Your patience wears thin, your compassion fizzles out, your bitterness resurfaces. Whether out of self-protection or forgetfulness, the tragedy that seemed like it would never leave the forefront of your thoughts has been relegated to the back of your memory along with other such events. The world rights itself, and you find again that which has become your normal.
You rush and run, compete and compare, hustle and harp. All the perspective you gained from this last unanticipated catastrophe fades away until the next one strikes and the cycle starts again. But maybe it doesn’t have to. Maybe one day you realize that you don’t need to wait for a next time. Maybe today is that day. Maybe today is the day you just intentionally stop in the midst of the madness and remind yourself what matters most.