Do you ever stop and wonder what life would be like if something immensely important to you changed in a split second? What if you lost a family member or a friend became sick? What if you or a significant other became pregnant or your significant other suddenly left? What if a drunk driver hit you as you drove home late one night or your cough turned into something life threatening?
We all have fears and questions that create more fears. Life is a series of unknowns laid out slowly in front of you. It’s scary and unusual and difficult and somehow magnificent and beautiful all at once. As a child, I used to lay in bed and wonder what would happen if I was somewhere else at that exact moment. I wondered why every day I lay in the same bed at night while other kids didn’t. I never understand what created one life compared to another.
Although this question still haunts me from time to time, life has brought me some semblance of an answer to this. Every time I feel too tired or sick to face my day, I think of someone who experiences that every day. Every time I feel lost or misunderstood, I think of someone who battles with their identity and their community. Every time I feel grief or loss of any kind, I think of those around me who have lost so much more than I have.
Life wasn’t created to be perfect or blemish free. Experiencing the lows is what makes the highs so remarkable. Nothing is permanent or invincible. Life has taught me that the unknown doesn’t have to be scary despite the butterflies in our stomach.
If my life changed in a split second, I would be as shocked as every other person. However, I find that there is one way in which I have prepared myself for this abrupt and unsettling thought that others have not.
I have written about all of these people who I’ve never met, but that I wondered about. I have written about people in my life who deserve so much more than life has given them. I have written about how grateful I am or how sad or hurt I am. I have written about every imperfection and question that I have.
In every word, I write a part of me shines through, a part that will not alter as I alter. My words grow and change with me, but what I have said doesn’t disappear. I have expressed to so many people how I feel about life and all its wonders. I will not leave them with no part of me if I ever go. Similarly, I will not be left with nothing of them if they go because it is their influence and participation in my life that has molded me into this person.
In a world as unknown and scary as ours, I have prepared myself in the only way I know how. I have left something more permanent than myself. If something immensely important changed in my life just a split second from now, I would turn to writing as my coping mechanism, my solution, and harbor. There is no secret to life, perfection, or happiness, but writing brings more joy to each of these areas than I ever could have imagined otherwise. Next time your mind takes you to a million different “what ifs” or you find yourself feeling daunted by life and its unknowns, take a second to write and you might just find some serenity within this crazy world.