“Start each day with a grateful heart” is printed on a wooden sign that was given to me by a friend. I have that inspiring message hanging on the wall opposite my bed. I am reminded first thing in the morning to be grateful. Such a simple instruction yet sometimes, very hard to do. My mind is quick to fill with duties of the day and sometimes a reluctance to leave the warmth of my cozy bed. Yet, if I can shift my attention from activity and instead tap into an inner gratitude for the mere fact that I am alive, then each breath becomes a sacred gift. Earlier this year, I had a close brush with death and can say first hand that I no longer take for granted the blessing of being alive.
Perhaps the universe needed to startle me back into an attitude of gratitude. The time was 7:15 pm on Sept 23rd when death brushed by me. I was walking across the road with friends in a crosswalk by the beach after a birthday celebration for my friend Shaun. I was the last one in the group when I suddenly heard a shout from across the street. “Liah! Look out!” Then suddenly as if instinctually, my friend Patricia who was walking in front of me, grabbed my arm and pulled me forward out of the path of a speeding red car. I was wearing a black dress on that dark night and the driver did not see me at all. The car hit the back of my dress and left an indelible memory in my mind of the shiny red hood that almost robbed me of my life.
The driver was shaken up and dropped over on the side of the road, apparently, he heard the shouts of my friends as they screamed when he passed. I was hyperventilating and my body shook from the intensity of the situation. I could not speak or process. I was overwhelmed with shock and fear. I could not believe the magnitude of what had just happened. Had my friend Shaun not called out, and Patricia not grabbed me, I would have been hit by that car and gone hurling through space and my body would have then been on the way to the hospital or dead on impact.
I share this because too often we forget that the little things that are bothering us can take away our serenity and leave us feeling empty, frustrated and meaningless rather than grateful, alive and purposeful. If that had been my last day of life would I have felt complete and at peace with everyone and everything in my life? I asked, did I leave things undone, unfinished or not detected? Did I settle for less than I was meant to be, do or have? Was I kind and compassionate with others or was I self-centered and ego driven?
I feel like I have been given another opportunity at life. I have a chance to rewrite who I am and what I am here for. I have the liberty to love deeply, care positively and to make a difference in the lives of everyone I know. Since we never know when the angel of death will come to get us, we must live as though we only have today. No more wasting precious time in resentment, fear, self-pity and judgment. Instead I chose to live in gratitude, peace and harmony-these are my goals. I am here to let those I love know that I love them and to show up for what life brings, even if it is not quite what I ordered.
Perhaps I would add to my wall sign, start and end each day with a grateful heart.