" SpiritofSaltSpring:BC:Canada:GulfIslands:SaltSpring:Salt Spring:

June 30, 2010

There have been a few times in my life that I've known what might be considered tragedy. The phone call about the suicide. The call about a cousin who died of a heart attack at 35. Seeing my 43-year-old sister unconscious being wheeled away in an ambulance, never to see her again, wearing a summer T-shirt that said, "Life's a Beach" on the evening before she died. Depressions that seemed like they'd never lift, and wouldn't have, without the support of others. Feeling let down, yet again, by a man. Well, that's not a tragedy really but after a while that reality does take on a tragic quality.  Events that change us (and in spite of the pain at the time, the change has not always been for the worse).

Sometimes however you hear of other people's tragedies, people you really care about, and its as if in their anguish, which is palpable, you experience a taste of mortality that's too strong and you really don't know what to do with it and where to put it and it changes you slightly. And, if it does that to you, the mere bystander, what must it be doing to them? And, you don't know what to say and suddenly you are acting a little different over the phone with people you can totally be yourself around, laugh with, spend the most amount of time with and receive support from and now, because of the situation, you feel somewhat helpless to know how to help them.

Driving on Salt Spring is dangerous. The  deer are waiting to pounce. There are blind curves and invisible ditches. Especially at night. There are other drivers who act as if they are the only ones on the road expecting you to be the most defensive driver in the world, especially on back roads that sometimes have small hills with no center lines and just the slowing down and the hope that the other person coming towards you is as far to the side of his side of the road as possible as you are to yours.

The drinking and driving laws have changed significantly  to the degree that most of us, unless we were to pledge from this day forward to never have a drink when we are driving (which seems like the wisest choice), could look back at our past behaviour and not wonder, had we been caught, would we have passed the breathalyzer even though we'd had two glasses of wine and felt perfectly fine.

I don't know the full circumstances or the details of the event that happened on Saturday night. I do know a bit about the outcome and I can only imagine the ramifications in the lives of a lot of people as a result. Really good people who have had, at least temporarily, their optimism and possibly their futures altered because of an accident.

And, in that thought my mind goes to Pema Chodron's books When Things Fall Apart and Start Where You Are.  No doubt it seems trite to even mention a book but words of comfort and our thoughts matter and sometimes they are all we have to wrap around us and lead us to our future - one day at a time - when on the outside there is nothing tangible that can change where we're at.
"Only to the degree that we've gotten to know our personal pain, only to the degree that we've related with pain at all, will we be fearless enough, brave enough and enough of a warrior to be willing to feel the pain of others.  To that degree we will be willing to take on the pain of others because we will have discovered that their pain and our pain are not different."

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