Friday, April 19, 2024 -
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Saab story

Life can change in a split second. We all know this. But this week I felt it. Now I know in every cell of my body and deep within my soul what the power of a second in time, just a blink of an eye, can mean.

It’s not that I purchased a split second stop watch built by chronograph mechanism. I was walking across the street on a green light, you know, the little white walking boy, when the next thing I knew a car was driving into me. It was only a split second, but sometimes that’s all it takes, and there it was. 

Though it was, literally, just a second, it became the longest second — I can’t imagine anything lasting longer than that moment in time. I blanked out. I was stymied in the moment of this split second.

As I have grown up over the years I learned a surprising thing about myself. By nature an emotional person, more soft spoken and not gravitating toward the spotlight, I would not have expected myself to be the one who remains the voice of calm, taking firm action when it came to emergencies. But through the years, it turned out to be so.

Now I learned another, different lesson about myself. When the emergency came to me, I blanked out momentarily. I was disoriented and did not even remember the basics  of calling 911 or noting the license plate of the car, specifically the Saab, that ran over my foot.

When I was a little girl, our Saab  was a white, beat up and noisy car that my dad drove and I grew up in, so I couldn’t help but notice that.

Trying not to make more out of it than it is, or be too self indulgent, I am trying to walk away from this incident, from — as my friend Rachel has now named it — “the Saab story.” It’s an opportunity to learn more about myself, my fears, how and why I react the way I do.

My thoughts just moments before the contact between my body and the car, and when I came to . . . oh how different. Life can change in a second. I no longer take the day for granted  — just having the day, just having time, feels like a gift, as concrete as a box wrapped and bowed, cradled in the palm of my hand.

At one point I felt the power of the split second by having this dissociative sensation of being outside of myself and just imagining how things could have gone had the car not stopped when it did.

I shudder to think. I can see the broken glass, broken bones, mangled body, for a brief moment. I am haunted by the thought. There you have it, just a split second.

So much in life we determine in those split seconds. A social judgement; a que that your subconscious picks up on and makes you react a certain way; an opportunity that, if not seized, is, just a moment later, gone. Appreciating the moment, the gift of life — as the saying goes, “seize the day” — such a simple yet wise notion, such a deep life truth.

This week I felt I was granted time again. Here is an opportunity to practice, in the face of life’s daily challenges, all the qualities we are here to develop and improve on, patience, understanding, generosity, compassion, forgiveness.

Here is an opportunity to share and laugh and live and bond. Here is an opportunity to build who I am meant to be on this earth.

Just as a split second is a mere moment in the march of time, the toes on our feet are one of the smallest parts of our body. I got lucky. Very lucky. All I walked away with was a fractured toe. You would think, of all things, that is the least of it. And it is.

Yet, from just a fractured little toe, I may not walk for six weeks now. As small as that toe is, it plays an enormous part in our lives. Apparently, we use most of our body weight to push off of that little, big toe in order to walk.

It’s just in time for the nice weather. And the one thing I have always been is a walker. I am disappointed. I can’t be free outdoors, in the budding spring, out around Central Park’s reservoir or out and about the busy streets of New York, as I am accustomed to.

But it seems I needed that split second wake up call, to pause and reflect. Now I am given six weeks to have a whole new appreciation for life, and specifically for the miracle of the equilibrium of my daily walking. For that, I am grateful.

Tehilla Goldberg

IJN columnist | View from Central Park

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