Making the Best of a Bummer

People have been asking me how my vacation went. Amazing, it was an amazing trip. If you haven’t been to Ireland, I highly recommend a visit for its beauty, nice people, rich and complicated history, excellent food, fun, and more.

If you follow me on social, especially Instagram, you know this already, and you may also know that my husband and I had a car accident! No one can quite understand how I managed to basically park my car on top of the other car (see photo). Since no person got hurt — just both of the cars and my pride–we went on to have a wonderful vacation.

This is because of two key factors:

1) The owner of the parked car I hit.

This man was an angel on earth. I mean, I WRECKED his day, and even still, he could not have been kinder. His car was parked in front of the mosque where he prays and the poor guy came outside to a pretty un-fun surprise. You would never have guessed he was the car owner, he was so seemingly unconcerned about the car. Instead, he focused much more on me and my well being, and even shielding me from the lookey-loos who were stopping to scratch their heads, take photos, take videos, and do pretty much anything OTHER than ask if we were ok.

FYI, not a single person who stopped while driving, walking or cycling to take a photo for themselves asked any of us — and we were standing right there– about our well-being. It was bizarre, upsetting, and also eye-opening. It was impossible to miss the irony that in our social media-forward era — you know the one that’s supposed to be enhancing connections? –people were trying to capture a shot for their own purposes without considering the actual humans involved. We both watched this with astonishment. I’ve noticed and considered this before, for example, watching people take cheerful photos at somber memorials, and while watching people deliberately film video and snap photos in live theatre after being asked not to. It isn’t just the rule-breaking, it’s the disregard for the humans who are also present. It’s given me a lot to think about regarding my own actions as I move through my post-vacation, regular life.

After we resolved all of the details and logistics, the owner of the car I hit repeatedly implored me to please enjoy the rest of our holiday saying, ‘you can’t change what happened, but you can ruin the future by beating yourself up. I hope you won’t.’ Upshot: kindness and presence matters. I personally will never forget his example.

2) My own beloved human.

This experience reminded me of a piece of advice I received in the period after my divorce from my ex-husband, a list of 12 secrets or tips for a happy life. Number 1 was “marry the right person.” To be clear, the list was not promoting marriage as the key to happiness. Anyone who has been married, or has been in a long term partnership, is likely snorting-laughing at this notion. But more key was how letting the “right” people–people who add to, not detract from your life–into your close world was essential.

Connections matter, and we only have so much bandwidth for true connection. It doesn’t make sense to spend that precious time and energy on vampires, i.e. those who only take and don’t give. This isn’t to say that I feel lucky divorce has given me this perspective – I don’t. Divorce sucks, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. But having been married to two very different men does make it plainly obvious. Your choice of partner matters. Profoundly.

My husband handled me, the insurance info, and the rental car agreement calmly, without judgment or a cross word about the whole thing. He was patient and understanding, and only brought in humor about it when he knew I could handle it (much later, when our plans were adjusted, over a cocktail). Upshot: connections matter, and time is precious. Spend it with the right people who know how to give and take.

I know, it’s the coach in me perhaps, but I can’t help but find the gifts in this experience. I’m grateful there were no injuries, and frankly, we gave a lot of onlookers a good deal of pleasure (again, see photo!). I’m not always this quick to see the upside in a situation, but this one, though dramatic, was somehow especially clear. I hope my personal learning’s have been helpful to you in finding the bright side in your future or current hardships.

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