Monday, February 27, 2012

Mr. Brightside

Life's a funny thing.  Could I be any more melodramatic?  (could I be any more like Chandler Bing right now?  Probably..)

Here's a story.  My mom works downtown at a women's clothing boutique and she's essentially second-in-command; she runs the store when the owner (her boss) isn't there, and she has traveled with her boss to New York and Miami to see various fashion shows and conventions with fashion vendors to consider what to buy for and sell at their store.  Last week, my reading week, my mom was to go to New York with her boss, and she would've left on the Wednesday in the middle of the week.  In the end she declined the offer to go a few days before the trip would've been because she said she'd feel bad missing my time home from school.  Wednesday evening, her boss calls her from the side of the highway.  She was driving to the airport to catch the flight to New York, and she was behind a pick-up truck with lumber tied down in the bed in the back.  As she was driving, a block of wood dislodged itself from the truck, fell from the truck and flew through my mom's boss's windshield.  The block of wood missed her, but she was slightly wounded from the windshield shattering.  The block of wood, instead, flew through the passenger side and collided with the passenger seat.  Had my mom decided to go to New York, her boss would've picked her up to go to the airport, and she would have been sitting in the passenger seat.  My mom was really shaken up after the phone call from her boss, and to be honest, the story shook me, too.

Just yesterday, there was a train derailment back at home (and I was still there for the Oscars, which - sidebar - were very boring but all hail Meryl).  I'm unclear on if there were any details revealed today - when I'm back at school I'm quite literally cut off from the rest of the world and the only sort of news I absorb is pop culture related - so I can't with certainty say the reason for the derailment, but I suppose now as I type I really should inform myself and promptly will once I'm finished writing this.  The extent of my knowledge from yesterday was that three Via Rail employees lost their lives; that countless other passengers were injured with varying degrees of severity; and that I believe it was five out of the six cars derailed.  My family and I kept it on the news for a large part of the day yesterday, so the image of the train on its side as well as the emergency responders in the immediate area is somewhat still clear to me.  The train derailment occurred directly behind my parents' friends' house, and I'm very familiar with the area.  They called yesterday saying that they could see the entire accident from the second floor of the house.  Of course, nobody in the surrounding residential area was injured, but I was again reminded by the capacity of accident hitting close to oneself.  This was only furthered by the influx of Facebook statuses appearing all over my news feed, all from students who could very well have been on that very Via train to travel back to school at the end of reading week but missed their train departure or were scheduled for the following train or were staying home for the night.  Again: what could have been.  My thoughts are with everyone who was somehow involved in that, whether it be a victim or the network of secondhand victims existing as families and friends.

I can't help but think of the Hollywood trash that is the Final Destination film franchise that hinges on the idea of wrong place, wrong time with respect to freak accidents.  (of course, then, the whole mystique of those movies is to watch the supposed survivors get killed in even freaker accidents, and while I liked the first few they've become horrible and this reference is rather irrelevant to the tone of what I've been writing) I guess my point of talking about instances where accidents hit a little too close to home is to mention just that: that anything could happen at any moment to anyone.  Things become real when you can physically extend a connection to something; I can't count the amount of times I've seen stories on the news about tragedies and thought, That will never happen to me!, much like I do about, say, breast cancer occurring in the family or getting the winning lottery ticket.  It's a simple thing to say "that doesn't affect me" until it really does, and with that idea, the gravity of possibility has been resonating with me for the past few days.

In reality, life is extremely fragile.  I take for granted the fact that we, as human beings, are truly physically weak to everything around us: I don't give a second thought to the dangers of the road whenever I jump in my car to even drive to the grocery store down the street; I never think of the chance that any appliance in my house, any knife in my hand, has the capacity to inflict unmeasurable or even fatal damage upon myself, but I've been cultured to assume safety in my repeated use of a properly working stove or a carefully handled serrated edge.  In fact, I go through entire days without thinking of death, and even in the times I'm exposed to it as being championed in works of fiction, I never apply it to myself.  No; I subconsciously affirm myself that I will live a very long life and die at an old age, but I honestly have no idea what the future has for me in store, and my surroundings hold infinite possibility.

With that in mind, I suppose my "epiphany" if anything is to stop taking my safety and, on a larger and more melodramatic scale, my life for granted from day to day: it is certainly an easier thing to say than do, but I'm hopefully looking forward to at least stop complaining about how horrible my living situation is or how bad my feet hurt after seven hours of class or how much work I have to do before the end of the semester and just stop, take a deep breath, and be thankful to be alive.

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