Notes From a Car Crash

Imagine yourself driving down a beautiful country road in the late summer sunshine – suddenly your car enters an uncontrollable skid and heads straight into the ditch.  There’s nothing you can do to stop change, lifestyle design, start your own business

The car hits the bank with a crunch and lurches into a roll.  As you are flung upside down you have a moment of clarity “I’m not ready to die”.  You cling onto consciousness as the car rolls back over and comes to a halt.

The car is ruined and smoke is pouring from the engine – quick get out.

You test your fingers, toes, legs, arms; it’s a miracle everything seems to be working.  Your head is groggy and your neck is in agony, but most importantly you’re alive.

How do you feel?

It really, really, really could happen

This was my experience just under 2 weeks ago on holiday in France.  My wife and I were driving to the supermarket and on a patch of temporary road surface.

We were driving carefully, and the skid just happened – a freak accident.

Miraculously, we both walked away from our rolled car and sat dazed as humanity kicked into action.

People stopped to help.  The police, fire brigade and ambulance arrived on the scene to take care of us.

We were whisked off to hospital and checked out – whiplash, bruises and an unsurprising dose of shock.  The car was cleared away.

The next day we were home in the concerned care of our families, who were amazing.

Within 10 days our sore necks are healing, our headache gone, and the shock is diminishing.  The human body doing what it does best.

How was it for you?

Reflecting on this now, I realise that this is one of my nine lives used up.  This was my first “I’m not ready to die” moment.

We could have been going much faster, been on a mountain pass (we’d driven up lots of those), gone straight into a tree or oncoming traffic.

We were remarkably lucky to walk out in one piece.

Life is Precious

Realizing this reinforces my viewpoint that life is precious and needs to be lived to the full.

In 2 seconds life went from business as usual to in peril.

It definitely made me realize that there is no point in putting things off.

Our Amazing World

I also got an insight into the amazing human world we’ve created.

We were 2,000 miles from home without a mobile phone, passport or driving license (lesson learned for next time) in a country whose language we can just about get by in.

Within a minute we were being helped by the first couple to drive by.  Then the human systems we’ve created kicked in to treat us, protect others from harm, clear away the problem.

There must have been 20 people involved in making this happen on a random Saturday afternoon in the countryside.

For all the complaining that goes on about the state of modern life, this is a true testament to the amazing things we often take for granted.

Once home, our families have showered love and concern on us and have really been amazing.

I want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart.

Human Strength

Last, I’ve renewed my admiration for the human body and nature in general.

The first few days and nights were complete agony and I was concerned that I might have done myself some permanent damage.

Yet every day the recovery has been remarkable and rapid beyond expectation.

My mind has really worked hard to come to terms with the shock and the psychological impact as well.  There have been some bad dreams and some tears.

Yet, I’m already starting to feel at peace with what happened.  In a strange way, I’m grateful for it.

Having this accident has helped me put my life in a better perspective, increased my gratitude for the world and the amazing power of people.

Over to you

Have you had experiences that have shaped your perspective on the world?  What happened?  How did they affect you?

Other resources

Tracy Todd also had a car crash and suffered paralysis.  Her brilliant writing and life are an inspiring example of how to see the positive in every situation.

Monty Python reminds us to “Always look on the Bright Side of Life”

Photo Credit: Marianne O’Leary (Flickr Creative Commons)

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  1. Phil
    September 15, 2010 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    Have you had a life changing experience? How did you lose one of your nine lives? How is your life different now?

  2. PJ
    September 15, 2010 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    I’m so glad you guys are ok!!! Take care and I hope you heal quickly and completely!

  3. September 15, 2010 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

    Wow Phil. This is a moving article. It is a testament that there really is a Universal Mind at work. For all the complaining and negativity we hear it is stories like this that are a great reminder that we are all connected. I’ve had a near and dear friend go through a tough patch with cancer. Connecting with him has brought up a lot of the same emotions you are expressing. We have never been closer and I have a renewed appreciation for my relationship (not to mention just how amazing modern medicine can be.)

  4. September 15, 2010 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    … and I am so glad you are OK, of course!

  5. September 16, 2010 at 1:50 am | Permalink

    Powerful stuff and so glad you and the wife are well, but also grateful that it meant a new awakening for you too.

    I had a bad accident last year too, my experience was different and of a less forgiving nature, I chased the people who crashed into me and caught them…I felt like batman! :-D
    Amit Sodha – The Power Of Choice recently posted..Interview With Actress &amp Singer – Karen David

  6. Carol Root
    September 16, 2010 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    Wow- I am so sorry to hear that you & your wife went through this horrifying experience, Phil! But glad of course that you are OK and are managing to find the “silver lining” in the situation. Yes, let us all be grateful every day- you never know what’s around the corner!! Sending healing thoughts your way.

  7. Lou Watson
    September 16, 2010 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    Wow Phil – did not know about this, just saw Mike’s post… SO glad you are both OK. That is quite a wrecked car! Love to the wife and you from us all :-) xxx

  8. Tracy Sullivan
    September 16, 2010 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    I am so glad you and your wife are ok… thank you so much for sharing your experience with the world! out of the ruins of that crash came some amazing, life-changing thoughts… thank God you are both doing well and prayers for continued healing Phil… Trcy

  9. September 16, 2010 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    WOW Phil! So glad to hear you and Em are ok. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. Makes us all take stock and remember to appreciate life and make the most of it!

  10. Phil
    September 16, 2010 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    @Carly – thanks for the good wishes. Yes definitely makes you glad to be alive.

    @Tracy – yes I guess in some ways it has changed my life a little. Great to hear from you.

    @Lou – that isn’t actually a picture of our car – although it was equally wrecked and half the parts were left in the ditch

    @Carol – too right, we never know what is around the corner

    @Batman – go get ‘em champ. What a hero. Thanks for stopping by and hope life is wonderful with you.

    @Rob – thanks for sharing your story – these moments are so telling in seeing the bigger picture and I’m so appreciative for that.

    @PJ – thanks for the good wishes and healing thoughts – I know you’ve had your moment with this type of experience too so that is extra appreciated.

  11. September 16, 2010 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    Hi Phil,

    I second all the others. Glad you walked away from the wreck. Hope your neck is better. You never know what’s around the corner.

    It’s kinda like we slip into this auto-pilot until something re-wakes us up. It needs to happen or we end up sleeping through our lives.

    I’ve had several near misses. Does make you appreciate the miracle of your own life.

    welcome back!

    Giulietta Nardone recently posted..The cure for a boring life

  12. September 17, 2010 at 3:15 am | Permalink

    Yikes! Phil, I’m so glad to hear that you and your wife are OK. This is one powerful piece of writing, my friend. I felt it right down to the tips of my toes.
    Patty – Why Not Start Now? recently posted..Dreaming and Awakening

  13. September 17, 2010 at 5:32 am | Permalink

    Was wondering why things were so quiet around here. Glad to know you and your wife are fine. I have not had such a close call but the times I’ve gotten into trouble, there has always been a stranger willing to help. People really are compassionate despite what some say.

  14. September 17, 2010 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    Phil-I could barely breathe whilst reading this post. You have the most incredible power with your words – they hit hard! Excellent writing!

    Thank you for the mention. So glad you guys are okay. I guess, that this is just another reminder for all of us that tomorrow is not guaranteed. Life as we know it today is also not guaranteed to be the same tomorrow. So, we should enjoy life and make the most of each moment. Now!
    Tracy Todd recently posted..Out to Lunch with the Boys

  15. September 17, 2010 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    Hi Phil. Brilliant article.

    I am also really glad that you’re OK!

    I had similar feelings (on behalf of someone else) when my brother was life-threateningly ill a couple of years ago.

    Namely… life is too short to worry about the wrong things, to put up with unfulfilling situations, or to spend the short time that we’ve got not doing things that you’re passionate about.

    Looking forward to catching up soon!


  16. Phil
    September 21, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    @Giulietta –

    @Giulietta – love the miracle of your own life – so true! Hope you don’t have any more near misses.

    @Patty – thanks for the feedback. It felt important to write about this whilst it was still fresh in my memory. I found it very cathartic and hope it was helpful to others.

    @Belinda – yes it has been quiet around here. Between building this new site and the crash, the summer flew by. Missed all my blogging friends and excited to reconnect.

    @Tracy – thank you for the kudos, coming from you that means a huge amount as you are one of the most powerful writers around. Take care.

    @Rob – thanks for the nice words. Agree on your sentiment and statements too. Life is way too short to wait around for something to happen. Seize the day!

  17. Juliana
    September 24, 2010 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    Phil– I’m so sorry to hear about the accident. A miracle it wasn’t worse! So glad you and Em are well on the road to recovery! ( bad pun). I’m still in the middle of my own “9 lives”. Late august had a bad biking accident that saw 3 broken bones, 9 days in the hospital, 1 foot sugery

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