Today I woke up to a rooster crowing outside my window. It was 5:05am and I had already snoozed my alarm once. Still dark, I fumbled for the light switch and donned my new "ROCKUP" uniform. Having had my allotted 2 minute shower the night before, I went straight to get some breakfast and make my lunch.
ROCKUP is a company that delivers and facilitates portable rock climbing walls and various other inflatable/challenge/team building/fun activities to schools, parties, and other gatherings. My first day on the job and we were headed South to a primary school in Auckland (where I just came from yesterday) to run a rock climbing/team building session with various classes! I was riding with a nice English guy who has worked for ROCKUP for the past few seasons on working holidays like mine. He ran through the plans for the day as we made our way down the major highway (one lane each direction) and I watched bits of the sunrise through the rainclouds.
Now, before you go looking up ROCKUP and find a misleading news story, I am just as healthy, happy and well as in my post from yesterday! The thing is, that we never made it to Auckland.
After having just been warned by my traveling companion about needing to go slow if I ever drive on this narrow, hilly, curvy road (quite typical for New Zealand), the rockwall trailer we were towing fishtailed and wound up pushing the van into the embankment, jack-knifed, and spun a complete 180, eventually landing on its side with the van against the hill. The whole accident seemed to happen in slow motion as if it would stop any second so we could continue on our way. This, however, was not the case as the rockwall completely blocked both lanes of traffic where it finally landed. I'll spare you additional details of multiple unnecessary ambulances, police statements, early morning reports of diesel on the road, and tow-truck problem solving, and focus on the fact that I am grateful to have lived through it to tell the story!
There are so many factors of our accident today, and any one of them could have made it all turn out differently: we played rock paper scissors last night to decide which American WWOOFer would go on today's job versus tomorrow's; we had a set time to leave the house, and wound up leaving a few minutes early; there was a truck coming (slowly) up the hill opposite to us, which prevented any oncoming traffic from passing him and being hit by our trailer; we were in New Zealand and therefore driving on the left-hand side of the road (the far side from the railing and steep hill); and we were already traveling slowly because of the rain.
Though all of this is scary to think about, it could have been anytime or anywhere; it just happened to happen today. After writing that sentence, I realized that today is October 20th. Exactly 4 years since we lost the sweet life of my dear friend Danielle Goren, in, you guessed it, a car accident. Wow. I began writing this post with the intention of mentioning today's accident along with an anecdote about helping to herd some neighbor's calves who had escaped (yes, it's been quite an interesting day), but now all I want to do is share how happy I am to be alive!
We are all lucky to have time on this Earth and I hope that I can always remember that. Everywhere you look there is beauty. It might be in an expansive landscape, the perfect timing of events, the composition of a photograph, the life in someones eyes, or the warmth in someones heart. It might be hard to see, or it might be difficult to get away from, but it is there. Danielle was always someone who saw the beauty in others, even if some people thought they were annoying or strange. She took pleasure in the simple things like playground hopping and going out for coffee, and she encouraged others to do the same. I have never understood why her life was cut short, but I do know she also believed everything happens for a reason. I actually titled this post before I made the connection about today's date, which I don't think is coincidental.
As much as I can from the other side of the world, I want all of you who read this to know that I love you! I am happy to be here and to have you in my life. I do want to ask a favor of you: If ever in the future it seems I am not loving life or remembering its beautiful gifts, please a) kindly remind me to think of things from a different perspective, b) refer me back to this post, or c) slap me in the face. I would very much appreciate it.
Thank you for reading and sorry this seems to have gotten so mushy. Then again, Danielle always did love a good chick flick, so perhaps this really is just a post dedicated to one of the sweetest people I've ever known :)