Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Second Chances

The morning that I got into the first car accident that I was responsible for left me crying in intermittent pleas to anyone who might listen.  I had just returned to Florida the day before from a Thanksgiving trip to Colorado and was still experiencing the jet lag of crossing two time zones.  My boss had decided to take an additional two days off to extend her holiday and I was supposed to be running the office solo-a responsibility I had gotten used to looking forward to.  She told me she didn't have to worry when I was in charge, something she hadn't had the luxury of with her last assistant, and I tried to extend my best efforts so that I wouldn't let her down.

I learned that you could never really tell what type of delays you would run into on your commute within the first two weeks of living in the Sunshine State.  I learned to always give myself at least an extra hour just in case.  That morning State Road 33 was still lined with a median of crabgrass and decorative palms just past the signal light that led you to I-4's on-ramp.  There was a lot of space at the end of that median-enough space for someone to park their car there and leave their headlights on, blinding a driver who was trying to make a left turn and couldn't see what was coming up on the stretch of road that curved around the median before it was too late.

My hair was still damp.  I could never get it to fully dry in the morning, even with a blow dryer.  Thick and wavy, but fine, it still became a ball of frizz in the southern humidity.  The officer was nice, taking down the information he needed and explaining to a frightened twenty-something girl why he had to still give her a ticket.  The witness was even nicer, advocating for that girl and persuading the officer to make the idiot who was still sitting in that parked car turn their headlights off.  The other party, an older lady, didn't speak directly to the visibly shaken girl, but she was a lot nicer about the incident than she could have been.  No one was hurt.  No damage to what really mattered.  They were just cars.  They were things that could be repaired.
I won't bore you with the details of the "to be continued" episode: a bankrupt car company that can't ship replacement parts, bosses that are more concerned about themselves than their staff, boyfriends who don't answer their phones in time, and an old friend and family members coming to the rescue.  Let's just say that girl was faced with a life changing decision that ended in a chance to break free and start over.
Mistakes, failures, and actions we come to regret because something "bad" happened are repairable like those two damaged cars.  Just in a different way.  There's not a set of precise part numbers to order, a tangible estimate of the cost and time that it will take for restoration or a set of insurance policies that will provide what's missing in the interim.

The only things that exist are reflection, resolve and each moment's opportunity to make a decision.  We're not bound by what occurred before-in no way does it seal our fate.  A choice is always waiting.  Often small, hidden and unspoken to perhaps only ourselves, they're there.  They contain a second chance, a renewal, and a reinvention.
The only thing missing is the moment where we realize that we're in the middle of viewing what we've been so desperately searching for.  It's the moment where we become filled with a sense of thankfulness and contentment for another chance to breathe. 

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