My Facebook status update from this morning, along with a picture of my niece Beatrix and I, in many ways is the most important status I write every year. For many reasons, 12/22 is the most important date of the year for me. While every day is a day of reflection, this one happens to be moreso than the others.
“Today I celebrate for the sixth time, the beauty of a second chance at life, when I awoke 12/22/08 7:28 AM on the middle of the North/Milwaukee/Damen intersection in Chicago after getting hit by a car, feeling my toes move in the bitter cold the most wonderful of accomplishments. Today, more importantly, for the third time, I also celebrate the birth of the most precious and beautiful person in the world, two years ago, my niece Beatrix was born. Happy Birthday Bea!!!!!!!!”
That accident has reared its ugly head consistently in the years since with many ailments resulting from it; but that moment has also reared its beautiful face many times also, to remind me of my second chance. Last night, I was reminded of the former, when my tailbone was in such excruciating agony that I could not get up off the floor. When I finally did, I thought years had passed by, and I was looking back upon the last 90 years of my life. My mind flashed back to all those days hobbling, all those days of physical therapy, that day when I broke my left foot, a month later when I sprained my right foot, six months later still losing feeling the left side of my body, all the days on the massage table, all the days under chiropractic care, all the medication I had taken, etc. Waking up this morning, I forgot all of that; and again, as my Facebook status indicated, was reminded of my second chance.
Sometimes it’s the littlest of things that can bring the biggest sense of accomplishment and satisfaction and joy. That morning five years ago, coming back to life, awake and aware to the bustling intersection, cars zooming back and forth all around me as I was lying on the street, and the horror of what had just happened, and the terror of not being able to walk again, being able to feel my toes amidst the bitter cold of that morning was a truly magnificent feeling. Feeling my toes! And now each day, there is not a morning I wake up when I don’t stretch my body and feel my toes. Luckily, the last few months, I also wake up to the sun rising above the Sausalito horizon clearing the waters, again a reminder to the world’s beauty, specifically welcoming me with a warm hello as I start my day.
I had a perfect day today, all of it with my family in Indiana. I joined them for breakfast, after which Bea opened her presents, the clear winner being the Lightning McQueen car that my brother & wife bought, from the Cars movies that she could ride. (I will take credit though that last night, the Legos and the Minion toy I bought was the clear favourite.) My brother and his wife are masters at gift-giving. It’s a gift; and they have it in spades. Her favourite game was ‘Fast’, where she would sit in her pink wagon and her dad would cart her around really fast. Like Ricky Bobby, she loved things fast; and giggled with every screeching halt. With Lightning McQueen, she would be even faster than fast. Watching her brings me back decades to when her mom – my sister – was but a little girl, also learning to walk and talk, inquisitive beyond measure. And amazed at the adult she’s become. After church, we had pizza from Pizza King (an Indiana staple along with Arni’s Pizza that rivals any pizza from Chicago or New York), sang ‘happy birthday’ to Bea, had cake, and took a nap. In the late afternoon, the New York Giants beat the Detroit Lions (making my brother an extremely happy man); though the Chicago Bears were demolished by the Philadelphia Eagles (making his wife extremely unhappy). Their dog Lawrence kept us all company, eating less of the Christmas presents today than he did the night before; always giving a watchful eye protecting Bea. In the evening, my mother laid a dinner spread of Indian food even more impressive than her usual, including chicken biriyani, chilli chicken, chori, duck curry, salmon curry, chard, etc. Bea entertained us as only children can, giving us high fives, saying ‘hi’ and ‘thank you’ ever so polite, all the while smiling & giggling, mesmerizing us. We ate. We drank. We laughed (much of the entertainment coming from my brother and my dad, two extremely funny people). And I sat back, smiling for much of the day, both actively participating in it, but also in deep thought.
Today I am reminded of many things, but one I always think about is the notion of destiny. I know my parents were destined to meet each other. Both my brothers and their wives were destined to meet one another. And my sister and her husband were destined to meet each other. I think of many of my dear friends and their significant others, knowing they were all destined to meet each other. I am inspired by how much they complement one another. I am inspired by how amazing they are as husbands and wives, as mothers and fathers. I understand and empathize how difficult it is; and that amazes me even more. All of their stories are epic; but those are their stories, and only their stories to tell. Part of my destiny and part of my story, I believe involves meeting someone, who I believe will change my life. There’s a scene in the Charlie Kaufman movie ‘Adaptation’ that I think of whenever I think of destiny, and how it pertains to meeting the person you’re supposed to meet.
“Point is, what’s so wonderful is that every one of these flowers has a specific relationship with the insect that pollinates it. There’s a certain orchid looks exactly like a certain insect so the insect is drawn to this flower, its double, its soul mate, and wants nothing more than to make love to it. And after the insect flies off, spots another soul-mate flower and makes love to it, thus pollinating it. And neither the flower nor the insect will ever understand the significance of their lovemaking. I mean, how could they know that because of their little dance the world lives? But it does. By simply doing what they’re designed to do, something large and magnificent happens. In this sense they show us how to live – how the only barometer you have is your heart. How, when you spot your flower, you can’t let anything get in your way.”
When I awoke in the middle of that intersection on 122/22/08, I knew then what I know now 12/22/13. I’m looking for my flower.