Yesterday, my day started out routinely just like most days before it. I woke up, gave thanks, exercised, showered, completed my prep for work, then made my way out the door. It was a cool autumn morning. 51 degrees Fahrenheit to be exact. The brisk breeze rustled through the stately trees causing the orange, brown, and red leaves to fall gently at my feet. Nature, in its own way, honored me with a "hello and good morning!" I popped the car door opened, sat in the driver's seat, and immediately began to think of the many mundane items on my agenda at work. Those thoughts, however, were briskly interrupted by the mellow music that came from the radio as I turned my ignition on. I was now at ease, ready to face another day.
As I drove off, I quickly noticed a woman dressed in all black hopping into her own ride that was parked on the same street. I wondered what was going through her mind and what kind of day was awaiting her. I kept driving. The upcoming red and white sign atop a metallic pole motioned for me to 'STOP!' Without giving it a second thought, I instinctively halted. Then I exhaled. The song continued to pump through the speakers as the car moved ever so gently forwards. Three non-descript seconds ticked by. Suddenly, in my peripheral vision, a blurry image of a black vehicle emerged on my right. It never stopped. It just kept coming. The noise of the violent kiss of clanging metals reverberated throughout the air while the accompanying shocks pulsated through my body. Smoke, fuel, dust, flying debris, and the sudden halt in a nearby opposite curb caused me to be temporarily disoriented. A black jeep had hit me smack dab in the middle of the car on the passenger side, jolting my car from the right side of the street to the left.
I quickly regained my senses and noticed I was physically fine as the strong stench of smoke and fuel filled the cabin. My first thoughts were to get out before a fire started. I wrestled with the seatbelt that somehow decided to be stubborn in that moment. With much effort, I prevailed and hopped out. I was stunned to say the least. But in that moment, my thoughts were not about my car. My thoughts were about my life - how fortunate I was to be alive and unharmed. Momentarily, I scanned the scene and noticed the driver of the other car, sitting on the opposite side of the road with his hands cupping his head. He glanced up and saw me. Like a perfectly harmonized duet, we simultaneously asked each other how each one was doing. He was fine and I was fine. I breathed a sigh of relief, and from his facial expressions, he did the same.
My thoughts swiftly drifted to my family, my mother especially, and to my friends. I was alive to personally tell the tale. At that moment, my thoughts confirmed what life experiences had been teaching me these last few years. That is, when all is said and done, what matters most is non-material. What mattered to me at that moment were my life, presence, and those I love, be they family and/or friends. Gratitude immediately drenched my frightened spirit. I felt relieved and blessed. There were people I could call that very minute. I shivered. They too were spared from what could have been much worse news. I whispered, "thank you!"
Thankfully, I am here yet another day. So are you. In the blink of an eye, fortunes can and do change. But the genuinely positive relationships you intentionally invest in will last a lifetime. What will you expend your greatest energies building up today? Could be your own business venture, your boss's project(s), your bank account. Whatever you choose, be at peace. But often, the most valuable assets in our lives are sometimes the ones most easily overlooked or taken for granted. So invest wisely. In life, there are immeasurable returns to be gained that cannot be traded, bought or sold. They can only be experienced, cherished, and reinvested through reciprocal love. They will outlast a replaceable car, a rebuildable house, a replenishable bank account, or anything material. They will outlast even time itself.
(The burgundy car is mine's)