I received news recently that a friend from college had been hit by a car from behind while riding his bike. Although it’s just the beginning and things haven’t played out all the way yet, I think that this story is something that we could all learn from. It involves acceptance and dealing with anger, two things that are simply a part of life.
My friend is around 40 years old. He thought he was getting soft in his old age, so he started doing sprint triathlons and was out training when this happened. He was banged up pretty badly, but he’ll survive and should even have a pretty good recovery. It’ll take a while, though. Injuries include a broken leg, a broken shoulder, a broken vertebra, and all bowels removed with a bag put in their place. Doctors have assured him that the bowel region should be back to normal in 6-9 months. He’s an extremely active person, not the type who is cool to just sit around while he heals. He’s always had quite a fiery personality, too. As another friend who has visited him in the hospital said, “Doctors say he is about the fittest, most irritable, least patient, most pain-tolerant person they’ve ever seen and they just want him to settle down and be a patient.”
He has a long road ahead of him, and nothing can be done about that. His excellent health has already put him on the fast track, though. Anytime he gets down, it’s essential for him to zoom out and remember that in the big picture, 6-9 months is most likely short compared to however many years he has left. Of course a long life is never guaranteed, but what’s the other option – getting depressed about the recovery? Screw that. He’s not that type of person anyway. So zooming out is huge. That’s a tool he has access to any time to keep from getting down about the road ahead.
The bigger issue, from what I’ve heard, is anger. And I don’t blame him! He’ll have to take a good look at this at some point, though. He was riding on the side of the road, exactly where he was supposed to be, and he got hit from behind. There were no skid marks from the car until after the point of impact, which means that the driver didn’t see him until the impact. The bike went one way and he went the other. It apparently happened just beyond the crest of a hill, so maybe the driver just didn’t see him. We all know about distracted driving these days, though, with our smart phones and what not. The driver could’ve easily been texting, emailing, looking at a map, changing the music, googling something, or doing just about anything else as he drove down the road. From what I’ve heard so far, this is the primary source of the anger (and I realize that it’s second hand at this point (I plan on calling him pretty soon to say hi and wish him well in his recovery). And if it was, indeed, distracted driving, then the anger seems pretty justified. The problem, though, is that justifying the anger won’t change a thing except to make him feel worse. Recovery time is still the same. Then there’s the fact that we don’t know for a fact what happened. Maybe the driver has admitted to texting while driving – I have no idea. Even if that’s the case, though, my friend still has to accept that this happened… because it has already happened. That’s the key. We all have things in our lives we wish weren’t there; this just happens to be a really big one. The volume is turned up. Since these things are already there, though, it’s pointless to resist them. We can only move forward.
The final question, then, is what does he do with that anger? Readers of A Clean Mind know by now that the only thing that he can do is feel it, without any story. Suppressing and expressing don’t work (read Feelings 101, The Sedona Method). It’s also worth noting that there’s nothing wrong with the anger, nothing at all. In fact, it’s totally normal under these circumstances. The story, though, which is very justifiable under these circumstances, will only make that anger get stuck. And that’s exactly what we don’t want. Anger is still a feeling, and feelings are still temporary, and there’s still only a finite amount of any feeling. Let it be there when it’s there but don’t hold it, and that’s the fastest way out.
So that’s my take on a tough situation. It involves acceptance, only because this has already happened. There’s no time machine yet, so we can’t go back and change it. Yes it seems like it sure sucks, but it’s done. And it involves dropping any story and letting yourself just feel angry when there’s anger on your body. But without holding onto that anger. That’s the fast way for even the largest amount of anger. And if he gets mad that I wrote this, then I’ll have to deal with that. I thought there was some good stuff for everyone to learn from, though, including myself. I guess I should go ahead and call him now…