September 11, 2013
I crashed my car in July. About two hours/100 miles from home, on my way to my vacation destination. Physically there was no way I would have really been killed, it just wasn’t that type of collision. There has been a lasting financial outcome to the accident. I have been thinking about other outcomes, not just the death of the other people involved, that would have been the end of me had someone been killed.
I’ve been thinking more about if I had not survived. I feel like there’s so much I have not done. I would have died without honest fulfillment. I have not been living the life I want to lead. It takes money to do a lot of things in life, money I simply don’t have and seem unable to earn.
I really don’t seek fame or fortune. I just want to be happy with my life. Our lives are so short, our experiences too few. We live and die, that’s all we get, we should do all that we can to make that lifetime worth remembering. Let’s face the truth, most of us will be forgotten eventually. Not very many of us are ground breaking thinkers and inventors or social revolutionaries. We’re just ordinary people, going about our ordinary lives.
Even for us ordinary people, happiness shouldn’t be unattainable. I should wake up every morning anticipating my day, but I don’t. I dread the sound of that alarm. I should enjoy what I do for a living, I should feel like I’m accomplishing something, but I don’t. I don’t look forward to work and I feel like I’m wasting the precious few years of my life. Especially as I grow closer to thirty. I truly feel as though I have wasted nearly ten years of my life accomplishing nothing and enjoying so very little.
Why does money determine the value of our lives? Why does money determine our happiness? Civilization has granted us many good things, monetary value is not one of them.
Dinosaurs, as we traditionally know them, existed for some 100 million years. All that remains of them are fossilized bones. Humans, in any sense of the word, have existed less than 3 million. Maybe we make it on this planet that long or maybe we don’t, will money still rule our lives? Will we still be asking the same kinds of questions that I ask? 97 million years is a long time, I cannot fathom what life will be like.
My lifetime is so very short compared to that. All our lives are. Any of us would be lucky to reach just 100 years. Do you think we will say to ourselves, “I wish I had made more money?” Not very likely.
I will be saying what I’m saying right now, that I wish I had done this or that, experienced this or that, traveled here or traveled there. Living is what I will regret, not money. If I’m lucky, I won’t regret anything.
It takes willpower to live. All the money in the world cannot fill the void of unhappiness. It can buy you things that make you momentarily happy, but that’s a cycle that doesn’t end. Eventually you’ll want to buy something else, something newer. And it just keeps going. Look how unhappy many of the rich and famous people are, they could buy nearly anything they want, go anywhere they want and yet they are not happy. Happiness comes from within, it is not a material thing or a physical place.
Experiences, memories, dreams, these things bring us joy or happiness. Sadly in today’s world, money can now buy these things, or you cannot experience them without money. There is a price on everything now days. Even our thoughts and ideas can be bought and sold as intellectual property.
You have to settle for the small things if you ever want to feel happy. Everything else seems fake, unattainable or not worthwhile because they will mean nothing in the end.
I appreciate experiences that force me to reflect on things. If only I could say that I appreciate the outcomes of those reflections.
Seven days after writing this piece, I crashed again in a different car only 2 miles from home. In the accident from July I had been hit by another vehicle on the back passenger side. The crash from August was caused by loose gravel from road work, my front tire lost traction and slid as though I was on ice and crossed the center line onto the other lane which consisted of loose gravel and fresh oil.
Essentially, I spun 180 degrees and slid off the side of the highway down an embankment where my car flipped upside down. Hung up in my seatbelt, I was able to get myself free. The doors were all locked (never crossed my mind to unlock them, though the roof of the car was mashed in from impact and the doors pressed into the dirt may not have opened anyway). With the windows mostly intacked, I looked towards the back of the car and saw that the back glass had completely busted out, through which I was able to escape.
Between the two, this was the most violent accident I’ve experienced. Thankfully, I walked away with only scratches from the broken glass and a knot on my head where I hit the roof of the car. An accident similar to that is how I lost a close childhood friend ten years ago in August. She was not wearing a seatbelt and was thrown from the car which landed on her. A reason I have always worn mine and do not allow people riding with me to not wear theirs.