Have you ever wondered, Why Me?
I used to wonder, Why Me? all the time. But you know what? Why Me? is a very dangerous question because it feeds the concept that you aren’t in control of your life. And while you aren’t always in control of the things that happen to you, you’re always in control of how you internalize it—the meaning you give those events. And the meanings you give events in your life are the cobblestones of your future.
Yeah, I know it’s easy for me to sit here and say you should avoid the question. So let me tell you a story about how I reframed an event in my life and the difference that made.
I love motorcycles. Riding a motorcycle is like flying. Nothing compares to the wind against your skin, the changes in temperature, the scent of flowers, grass, and trees. There’s no roof to block your view of the countryside, no window frames to cut a scene in half. The ability to lean deep in a corner and shoot out the other side is like surfing an asphalt wave.
I smile just thinking about it.
A little over a year ago I was riding my motorcycle. I’d just left a client’s, and was heading back to the office, when it happened. I was on the on-ramp for the freeway. I was clear to the side. I checked over my shoulder and saw that there was ample room for me to merge with traffic. I looked forward again and was still clear. So I started to accelerate down the remainder of the on-ramp. I quickly checked over my shoulder again and was still clear. I looked forward… A minivan—slightly to the front and the left of me—was hard on its brakes cutting into my on-ramp lane, cutting me off.
This all happened in seconds…
I had nowhere to go. There was too much traffic on the freeway for me to shoot to the left. And I wasn’t going fast enough to merge with traffic anyway. Besides, the angle the minivan was traveling put it right in my path if I tried to veer left. So in an attempt to avoid the minivan, I immediately applied the front and rear brakes and tried to angle my bike to the right and off the road. But they were breaking too hard and cutting too sharply across my lane (the on-ramp). Then I tried to lay my bike down so I could kick off and at least slide it out.
I was in a side-ways slide leaning at about a 45° angle, a second more and I’d have been able to lay the bike down and kick off. That’s when the minivan hit me, right behind the front wheel of my bike.
I thought, “Not Today!” And I thought of my wife and children and how much I love them.
I was launched off my bike like a human rocket, except I didn’t have a safety net. That’s right, I was airborne—at about 55mph…
Martial Arts Anyone?
Instinct, from many years of martial arts training, took over. I immediately tucked then I slammed into the ground and rolled, and rolled, and rolled… Seriously it felt like I tumbled forever! And it wasn’t like on the mat at karate either. This was like being stuck in an industrial-sized clothes dryer. WHAM! Thump, thump, thump, WHAM! Thump, thump, thump, WHAM!
A road-side marker finally stopped my roll somewhere between fifty and one-hundred feet up the freeway—I’m a little fuzzy on that part because my head (in a helmet thank you) hit the asphalt at least four times as I bounced along.
So I lay there with this road-side marker pressing into my lower back and I thought, “I’m glad I survived.” Then I thought again of my wife and my daughters and sons, and how glad I was that I’d get to see them again. I didn’t try to move because I didn’t know how bad the damage was. All I knew is that I hurt everywhere—and that’s a colossal understatement.
I continued to lay there while good Samaritans asked me questions. Then they helped me sit up while we waited for the ambulance. It was then, while waiting for the ambulance that I had a thought that surprised me at the time. “I wonder what the lesson in this is and who it’s for?”
I never wondered, “Why me?” In fact that was the farthest thing from my mind.
As I sat there, I mentally reviewed the events of the accident and my day up to that point and I never felt I should have done something differently. In fact, it seemed that everything had happened in a perfect orchestration to bring it to pass. So I knew there was a reason for it. I’m not sure what the reason was. I believe it was a lesson. Maybe it was for the lady who hit me, the people who pulled over and helped, the officer who arrived and investigated the accident, my family, me, or even the paramedics who took me to the ER—and who, at my suggestion, took pictures of my helmet to show in motorcycle safety presentations. Maybe it was a lesson about what you can survive if you wear your helmet and other motorcycle gear.
Truthfully, there are a lot of lessons in what happened that day. But they would have been lost on me if I’d been entrenched in, “Why Me?” That question would have led to anger and resentment. It would have placed me as the victim of the accident. And while I was physically traumatized, I would only become a victim if I believed it so.
Another nice byproduct of asking, “What lesson is in this?” instead of ,”Why Me?” is that it helped me easily forgive the woman who hit me. I could have put a lot of energy into blaming her for the accident and into feeling like she wronged me. But truthfully, I felt no anger toward her. It’s not like she woke up that morning and thought, “I’m gonna get me a motorcyclist today!” In fact she was very apologetic and concerned for my well-being.
So next time something happens to you that hurts, that you feel angry about, or that’s just plain out of your control, try leaving Why Me? behind and asking better questions instead.
Questions like, “What lessons are in this?” And, “How can I use this to help others?” are a great place to start. Seek the knowledge and understanding that the experience offers you. You’ll be glad you did.
You Are The Master of Your Destiny!
Copyright © 2013 Roland Byrd — All Rights Reserved