We’ve all experienced those moments of life altering, earth shattering pain. The one that forces you into your body, to awaken you from a state of cruise control. It comes in many different forms, at different points in our lives, all on a different scale, having a different effect but it is one that refuses to be anything but felt. At 16, it’s the break up with your first boyfriend, perhaps later a divorce. For a firefighter it’s going to a call only to be forced to watch a family watch their home be devoured by flames, to the EMT it’s responding to a fatal accident. To a soldier it’s pulling the trigger for the first time on another life, or perhaps watching one of his own men being taken by another. It’s the phone call of an unexpected death, the diagnosis of a disease, watching another’s life end before your eyes. It’s watching a child go hungry, die from lack of vaccinations or a fatal disease. It’s losing a job, the function of a body part, or the aftermath of a natural disaster. All of which demand the attention of the human emotions, as if jolted into the current reality, one where time literally seems to stop. The cruise control has been halted, from 60 to 0.
It is that slow drip of water in a pond, watching the ripples flow outward, affecting the mass, but the intensity remains within that first initial drop. A whirlwind of grief and questions, standing there looking at your life from a floor of shattered glass, unsure if it’s even your life you’re viewing. This ‘autopilot’ phase is one that jolts many, but often doesn’t truly affect, on a grander scale, those outward ripples. But, for those moments that the ripple does affect the mass, we reevaluate where we stand in life, how very small we are compared to the rest of this vast universe. We think about our days and how they’ve been spent, acknowledging that we’re truly blessed and fortunate to not have been directly effected by such tragedy. Instead, we make promises to rid our lives of excess baggage that doesn’t serve our evolution, and thank God for all he’s generously provided.
Often times, when we stand in this space, we realize how much of our life has been run on autopilot. How much we missed while going through the motions, only to realize it’s no longer an option to fix or mend, but to let flow through you, realizing the grip you have on this moment is nothing at all. The vulnerability of feeling on a deeper level, tears that won’t stop, anger that fuels, questions that may remain unanswered. It’s a space that for anyone that has ever felt it, never wants to be forced to feel it again, it instills a fear that we want to distance ourselves from as fast as possible. It’s one that never leaves, instead, only lies dormant. Only to return at the time of another reminder that autopilot is the exact place we aren’t meant to be. It’s during these times that we’re forced to reevaluate and question our very existence. Watching another endure such pain, knowing there’s no amount of words, cards or gifts that will replace what they have been or will be forced to feel and endure. It is in these moments, we make temporary promises as we mourn and truly do feel for those directly effected. We swear this is our eye opener, that we’ll become more focused on the things that make us truly happy, instead of the stress of daily life we’ve allowed to weigh us down. Instead of complaining, we’ll be more grateful, instead of fighting, we’ll be more compassionate, instead of blaming, we’ll be more empathetic of another’s viewpoint, instead of being devoured by guilt, we’ll let go of those we’ve allowed to pull us down. Because in these moments we see from a very different perspective, we see how precious and short our time here is, whether that’s 20 years or 80, it goes in a flash nonetheless. But just as quickly as it came, it often leaves. Because for those that aren’t directly affected, life goes on, and autopilot is what we so effortlessly fall back into. Getting wrapped up in our everyday lives of seemingly trials and tribulations, forgetting to pay attention, to feel or wake up from this deep sleep. Until the next ripple hits, reminding us once again that we’re human. These are the moments that are meant to break us, shake us and make us realize that this is our focus, this is a glimpse of what we’re here for, this is when autopilot is off, when we’re planted in our own bodies, grounded and reminded our days are far too short to be spent doing absolutely anything except what brings us joy. And the falsehood that we’ve been fed while on autopilot that this isn’t our truth, is the reason we’re forced to be redirected into what is.
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