How many times have you heard the cry, “It’s a matter of life and death!” Not many times hopefully, in real life. Many, many times if, like most people, you’ve seen your fair share of TV and movies. This week, I cannot avoid the subject of when the difference between life and death comes and hits you squarely in the face. The reason? Well, twice in the same week, two major news events very nearly came close to hitting me in the face and to be honest, I am unsure if I could have survived the impact – directly or otherwise.
The first incident was the massive bomb that rocked Bangkok on 17th August. If it had exploded just two hours earlier, it could so easily have killed or maimed my daughter and her friend who had been walking down the very same street, like so many other tourists. They were staying in a hostel just five minutes walk away. Then the second incident took place literally around the corner from where I live, at the annual Shoreham Air Show. The shocking sight of the Hawker Hunter fighter jet plunging to the ground as the pilot lost control in the middle of an acrobatic loop manoeuvre, killing at least eleven people occurred once again, just two hours after my son and I had been sitting in heavy traffic in almost the exact spot where the jet crashed.
I have had some near misses before. I once lost control of a car on a wet, leafy, country lane, and was for a few seconds or so it seemed, skidding sideways, heading straight for an oncoming car. I somehow managed to regain control and the next thing I knew, we passed the other car, and I pulled into a lay-by and waited for my legs to stop shaking. I have nearly drowned after over-estimating my capacity for long distance swimming around a dangerous, rocky cove, before a friend came back and simply encouraged me to stay afloat until I regained enough energy to make the swim back to the beach. I have been held up at gunpoint – twice. Once by Russian soldiers who thought I was a Chechen terrorist! And the time before that by some notoriously trigger-happy soldiers in El Salvador.
Everyone says the same thing don’t they? Why does it take an extreme incident to make us appreciate the small things in life? Or simply be thankful for life itself? I have been learning this past year or so to truly count my blessings, even when the things I’m convinced I need and or deserve have still not shown up…yet. One thing is certain. If we can learn to be truly thankful for the people we have in our lives, if ever, God forbid, any of them are suddenly taken from us – however unfairly – we will at least know that we enjoyed their presence in our lives while they were here.
So here is the homework: tell one person in your life that you are truly thankful that they get to play a part – however small or large – in your life. Then, be really honest, and make a list of all those people that you know you make a difference in a positive way in their lives, and choose to be thankful that you get to play a part – however small or large – in their lives.