I was recently watching a video on Goalcast with Brendon Burchard. In the immediate moments after a serious auto accident he asked himself three questions, that stuck with him the rest of his life:
“Did I live?” “Did I love? “Did I matter?”
He goes on to characterize the changes in his life following the accident as “mortality motivation”.
His story while inspiring is not unique. So many great things come from trauma. Trauma can be anything, cancer, incarceration, abuse, war. Jim Rendon, in his work “Upside: The New Science of Post Traumatic Growth”, observes that survivors of trauma can exhibit similar changes in value and perception.
“A traumatic event, it turns out, is not simply a hardship to be overcome. Instead, it is transformative. The trauma becomes a dividing line in survivors’ lives. They are different after the event. Trauma survivors are often pushed by the brush of their own mortality, by the depth of their hardship, or even by the suffering of others, to find more meaningful and fulfilling ways of understanding who they are, and how they want to live.” (Rendon, 21).
I am a survivor. I understand this phenomena in a very visceral and real way. Translating the difference in the person I am now, to the person I was then, to my friends and family is a much more complex undertaking. And like any deep and transformative change, it takes time, there is a process to understanding.
I am grateful that I have been given the time to explore this new found freedom. Freedom to explore who I want to be, how I want to relate, and with whom I want to share this amazing life.
Second chances can be bittersweet. Still, I am savoring each and every moment.
Rendon, Jim. 2015. Upside: The New Science of Post Traumatic Growth. New York, NY: Touchstone.