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Jayne Lyn Stahl

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Accidentally on Purpose

Posted: 09/21/10 04:00 PM ET

Would it be considered naive or delusional to suggest that sometimes "bad" things that happen can be transformed alchemically into something good?

When life deals you a bad hand, do you just throw in your cards and walk away from the table, or do you step outside to look for the North Star, then come back and go another round?

There is something to be learned even from the gravest adversity.

Being prescribed bed rest for the entire Labor Day weekend was, for me, tantamount to torture, but it provided me the opportunity to unpack my head of all the unnecessary baggage I've been carrying around -- mostly other people's demands, needs and expectations.

Being remanded to rest for 72 hours provided the luxury of much-needed meditation, if you'll pardon the expression, on where I'm going, what I want and most of all, where I want to be. What do I want to do with the rest of my life? Yes, these kinds of thoughts may seem like a luxury, but are ultimately the only ones that count.

Yet, we fill our lives with so much distraction: shopping, cinema, television, politics, pointless conversation, bombarding ourselves with newsreel footage of everyone else's personal tragedies but our own. We spend our time playing with friends on social networking sites, trying to talk over the gaping hole of loneliness, doing everything but confronting the haunting reality, as poet James Dickey suggested, that we are wasting our lives.

Many have become so adept at carrying other people's baggage that they don't need any help lifting it. Others will try to convince you that the baggage you are carrying is your own, but it's not. They bought it hook, line and sinker, and only they can pay for it.

One longs for awakening in a world that worships sleep. Oh, and what an awakening it is to dream of stained glass, flying over the Atlantic, finding one's way in a foreign country, only to awake to headlines about Sharron Angle, Newt Gingrich and Afghan civilians killed for protesting "mosque" protest in New York. I have been known, like many, to lose myself in headlines, and in other people's news.

So, an accident, and a temporary suspension of higher order thinking, helped me to clear the cobwebs out of my vision, and to see, roundly and clearly, just how important it is to drive with the road in sight. Where this journey will take me, I honestly can't say, but movement has been the only divinity I've known, and what was an accident renewed a sense of purpose that was lost in the noise of car alarms, fire engines and endless chatter of all types.

Only those who refuse to answer when destiny knocks have wasted their lives.

 
 
 

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