You wake up at 4:30am to the sound of your alarm that almost gives you a heart attack. You start to get ready for work, and then realize that you didn’t wash your clothes the night prior. So now you’re already in a panic because you have to improvise with what you have since you don’t own a lot of clothes. But alas, you finish that process and you’re out the door on time, albeit barely. You arrive to work on time, but work is hectic! It was a long day, and now you’re on your way home to relax. But you merge lanes and cut somebody off – not intentionally – because otherwise you’ll miss your exit. You almost got rear-ended, and you’ve pissed some people off. Nonetheless, there was no accident and everyone is fine. But it could have been a bad situation. You could have been involved in a wreck that may or may not have been fatal (the former maybe in different circumstances). But you weren’t. This is a situation that has happened to me a couple times. I’ve been very careful on the road ever since my wreck almost a year ago, but sometimes my state of mind can negatively influence my decision-making. I suppose it’s at least respectable that I don’t drink and drive, or smoke, but I’m like everyone else – imperfect and prone to make mistakes. The question of the day is, do you dwell on the question of what could have been? Or do you accept that you’re okay and move forward?
This is a topic I’ve wanted to discuss for some time. A lot of people, particularly those who suffer from anxiety, settle on the fact that maybe they almost died. They spend the rest of the day thinking about that because imagining the alternative is not always pleasurable. Sometimes it’s difficult to realize that you don’t live in the past and cannot change it. But it’s almost ironic that even if something bad doesn’t happen, we still tend to reside on the possibility that it could have. Is it because we want to analyze our mistake? If so, that’s normal and healthy. In fact, I think it would be negligent not to consider the possibility that a close situation could have been my own fault. But it didn’t happen. Once you realize what you did, you learn from that and tread more carefully next time. There is no alternative universe you live in which you died. I’ve made some terrible road errors, and I’m not too vain to admit them. I once cut a corner while a semi-truck was trying to turn, and in doing so was almost clipped. That was my fault and I shouldn’t have done that because I put my safety at risk. Another time, I sped up at a yellow light knowing I wouldn’t make it and ended up running a red light. But see, I don’t forget these things, because I learned from them so that I could be more astutely observant on the road. Beyond that, however, why would I stress myself over something that did not happen? I’ve considered the possibility that it could stem from the fact that since I did actually get involved in a terrible wreck, I recall that memory every time an imminently dangerous scenario takes place.
But what influences people to fear death? For one, there are many people who believe that if they die, they will go to hell, and thus they’re afraid to die because they don’t want to live in that fate. The problem with this mindset is not what they believe; rather, it’s the fact that those people don’t do anything to change their fate. In other words, if you believe that if you die right now, you’d go to hell, why wouldn’t you be changing certain aspects of your life to instead strengthen your chances of going to heaven? Why wouldn’t you use a near-fatal mistake to help make yourself a better person? That’s the part I don’t quite get, since death is going to happen sooner or later (sometimes sooner rather than later). I know that for me, the person I was prior to my wreck wasn’t the same person that walked away from it. My entire worldview has gradually changed since that day, and I think that I’m a much better person because of it. But not everybody changes. Many people don’t believe in heaven or hell – they believe that death is just a part of life. So perhaps they are simply afraid to leave a world they feel very much a part of, or they are afraid to suffer (pain is not desirable after all). Or they are heavily influenced by the media, fearing such bizarre things as terrorists invading their home and killing them.
I recognize that I’m straying from the blog’s topic slightly, but the question I’m asking is: Does it take an actual traumatic circumstance to influence a person’s decisions and worldview, as opposed to a situation in which one almost occurred? And is it possible that once you have had that experience, you become less afraid of it? Regrettably, I’d answer ‘yes’ to both questions. It shouldn’t matter whether or not you’ve lived through some type of hell. It’s like texting while driving. People everywhere tell you to be cautious, but many drivers wait until they’ve actually been in a terrible wreck to take that advice. And honestly, my convoluted worldview insists that they should get in a wreck, because sometimes learning the hard way is the only way to learn. But what if you’re making all the right moves? You’re doing all the right things? When people say that we don’t live in a perfect world, they say that because even after doing all the right things, something can still go wrong. You have to prepare for that and not constantly worry about when something will go wrong. You know it will; that’s just the nature of how things go in life. But you also know that the nature of life brings certain positive connotations as well. Do you ever dwell on what could have resulted from a situation where something fundamentally good came close to happening, but didn’t?
Regardless of why it may be that you worry, the point remains that since that bad thing did not happen, you shouldn’t dwell on what could have resulted from if it did. It’s true that you should take a lesson away from the mistakes you make; I’m not arguing that at all. But consider what a life it would be to live on your past mistakes – living in a false reality where everything that didn’t happen will happen, wherein you’ll suffer an undesirable fate because next time you will actually make a fatal error. In other words, a life where you assume the worst will bring you nothing but constant worry, paranoia, negative reinforcement, and lower self-esteem. I used to be that way. I would get up for school and constantly live in fear of getting in a wreck. Irony, right? But anyway, now I get up and plan what I’m going to do next week, because I live assuming I’ll see that day. There’s a difference between knowing you could die at any point and assuming that you will. And for some people, I understand that it can be difficult to get past that feeling of anxiety. But maybe it’s not about getting over that feeling. Maybe instead, it’s about realizing that you could die any second of any day, and that a dangerous close call is nothing more than a reminder of that.
I love you, but your attitude is like that of a shrew. Your options? Take a pill or be my kill. Might I suggest that you wear a vest. Perish in class or be banished to the land of bluegrass, where dreams don't exist as you'll be eternally pissed.
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