Don’t Ever Take Your Life for Granted

chyna thomasThe following is an excerpt from my Weekly Newsletter. I don’t typically share my newsletter on the blog but decided to make an exception this week. If you would like to subscribe to our weekly newsletter, you may do so by clicking here.

“I’m Lucky to Be Alive”

The Officer wrote me a ticket for “improper lane usage”.

Yeah, I guess you could call it that.

During my Senior Year of High School, I must have been 17 or 18 years old, I was visiting my Father who lived in the middle of nowhere in Illinois. My parents were divorced and it was about an 8-hour drive from my Father’s house to my Mom’s house in the Eastern suburbs of Cleveland Ohio.

I don’t remember much about this particular visit to my Father’s, but I will never forget the drive home.

At the time, I had my own car, a 1982 Ford Escort Wagon with woody-wood paneling. Getting this bad boy up to 60 mph was a chore, and at 70 the steering wheel became a vibrating hand massager. I had inherited this vehicle from my Grandmother, who had passed away a couple of years prior.

It was an early spring morning, I don’t remember the exact time, but it was probably just after sunrise. The air was still foggy and the temperature was crisp. I remember being tired, but not unusually so.

The issue on this particular morning was the fog. It wasn’t so foggy that you couldn’t see directly in front of you, rather it was the type that was set out in the distance a bit so that you could continue to drive towards it, but never quite reach it.

Whatever it was, the fog had a calming quality, and it lulled me to sleep.

I nodded my head a few times and reminded myself that I had to stay awake. I probably slapped my face a couple of times as well.

Then it happened.

I drifted to the left, as my body was drifting to sleep, and the car left the highway for just a second.

I was on I-70 eastbound, with nothing but wide open space in front of me.

I was jolted awake and instinctively pulled the car back to the right and onto the highway.

The good news is that there were no cars near me when I pulled back onto the highway. The bad news is that at this point, I lost complete control of the car.

I swerved to the left to avoid going off the right side of the highway.

Looking back on it, I’m not sure that swerving back to the left was a good choice. I guess I was still hopeful that I could have regained control of the vehicle and continued on my merry way.

But when you are driving 70 mph down the interstate and you lose control of your car, instinct takes over and you don’t have time to process the possible implications of your decisions.

So back to the left I went. But I was unable to stay on the highway.

Instead, I veered off the left side of the road and into the grassy median.

There was a cement drainage ditch in the middle of the median that slowed me a bit and cracked the radiator as I approached the oncoming traffic from the westbound lanes…

As I retell this story, which I remember like it was yesterday, I’m still amazed that I didn’t hit another vehicle, a tree, a sign pole, or God-forbid, a semi-truck head on.

Frankly, the fact that I’m sitting here writing this email today is a miracle.

I realize how truly lucky I am to be alive and how fortunate I was that I didn’t kill anyone else.

My car, miraculously, came to a stop on the outer berm of the westbound lanes of the highway.

I walked away from that accident as an 18-year-old who didn’t realize how truly close to death I had come.

Why Do I Tell This Story Now?

Because if you follow the NBA, you know that a young woman, the sister of Celtic’s Star Isaiah Thomas, was in a very similar accident over the weekend. Only her story didn’t have a happy ending.

After drifting off the left side of the highway in Washington State, 22-year-old Chyna Thomas hit a sign pole and was killed in a one-car crash at 5 am on Saturday.

She had apparently fallen asleep at the wheel.

It was a sad and senseless loss of life.

But it illustrates just how fragile our lives are.

One moment we are awake, vibrant, and full of life and unlimited possibilities.

And in a heartbeat, it can all be taken away from us.

Remember What is Important

In my life, I follow a few simple rules.

Before I leave for the office every morning I make sure to hug and kiss all my kids and my Wife. I tell them all how much I love them.

The first thing I do when I get home is to find all my kids (and my Wife) and tell them again how much I love them and ask them about their days.

And before I go to bed, I sneak into each of my children’s rooms to check on them, give them a kiss on the forehead and, you guessed it, tell them how much I love them.

As you leave for work tomorrow, remember to tell your family how much you love them.

Life is precious.

Don’t ever take it for granted.

Until Next Time,
Jim

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