As I write this post, I am recovering from the aftermath of witnessing a bad car accident. As I was traveling to my local cafe to enjoy a peaceful routine of green tea lattes and writing, my morning had already started off on a disturbing foot when I turned on the news to see that overnight six police officers has been shot and ambushed. Trying to come to terms with the fact that the people that serve and protect us daily, are now being the victims of horrific traumas. I sent thoughts and prayers to the police officers and their families and thoughts of healing for this country, as the senseless hatred and violence continues to grow. With a heavy heart, I began my day.
I jumped into my car and was driving into town on a four lane road; Traffic was minimal, until I saw a car speed off across the four lanes of traffice from a side road, smashing violently into the car ahead of me. I immediately pulled over to the side of the road and ran to the car in the middle of the road to see if anyone was hurt. A woman sat still and silent in her car with exploded airbags all around her. I asked her if she was ok and she said, “I think so”, but didn’t move. The man that had caused the accident was standing outside of his car, calling for police. Car parts were strewn across four lanes of traffic and fluids were leaking from the woman’s car, flowing silently down the road.
As I waited with the injured woman, I noticed that her arm was bleeding She complained that her chest hurt. I told her to sit quietly until the police and ambulance came. Another man appeared on site and stayed with the woman in the car, so I went across the road to talk to the other man. I asked him if he was ok. He said, “If I’m not, then I would want to die.” I asked him why he would say this. He went on to explain that he was an ex veteran and had a brain tumor removed. He then asked me if I could see the dent in his forehead and said that he had, “Most of the tumor removed.” My heart immediately went out to him, knowing how much he must have suffered. Then he told me that he had been suffering from depression. Being a Therapist, I had to ask him if he had ever gotten help with his depression, but he said, “No, I’ve always been afraid of that.” I felt an enormous sense of sadness knowing that this man was struggling both physically and emotionally and now he had another traumatic incident happen, which would further exacerbate his depression.
The police quickly came and I gave my statement as a witness, still feeling very troubled about the incident. Before I left, I ran over to the man again and told him that he could get help for his depression and that he didn’t have to carry it alone anymore. With that, I left, never to know their futures, or what would transpire in their lives, but with an overwhelming sense of not being able to help someone who was deeply in desperatly struggling in life.
We never truly know what others are struggling with in life. I had a huge reminder of this today. When you go about your day and pass unfamiliar people, always remember that we all have our own stories, sometimes people have greater problems than we could ever imagine. Sometimes people hide their troubles and sometimes no one asks them. Each day we are offered the gift to help someone in need. Small acts of kindness can even save someone’s life, even a smile can make someone want to keep living.
Last week I spent five days without television or news, swimming and floating in the Gulf of Mexico. There was no stress or reports of violence or trauma. When I returned to the airport, I was quickly reminded of all the hatred and criminal acts spreading across this country. It saddened my heart and made me want to escape back into my deserted island. I was much happier not knowing what was going on, but if I don’t know, then I can’t make a positive difference.
What I do know is that there are people out there that suffer from anxiety and depression. The world we currently live in contributes to these disorders, but if we can personally take one small step each day to create peace both in ourselves and in our communities, then we can make a difference. It all begins with our choices. I know I can’t tune out the world we live in, but I have to be a part of the solution, by intentionally creating peace in myself and in my world. Sometimes I’m tempted to join in on the anger and rage that is sweeping across this country, but I have to take a step back and remember, that is not the world I want to live in.