“The story of life is quicker than the blink of an eye
The story of love is hello and goodbye
Until we meet again”
Jimi Hendrix’ last words in a poem found next to him on his deathbed
On average, a human eye takes between 300 and 400 milliseconds to complete a single blink. That’s roughly between three-tenths and four-tenths of a second.
That is how quickly life can change, whether we want it to or not.
In a blink of an eye.
Sixteen or seventeen years ago, I took my family to Disney. I never went there as a kid growing up in Cincinnati, Kings Island was my magic kingdom. However we had a friend who lived close to Orlando and we figured we could do a “two-fer”. Drive from Indianapolis, spend some time with our friend Judy, then hit the road for the short drive to Disneyland. My older son was 8 or 9, my younger son max was still in a car-seat.
Time with Judy was fun, I really don’t remember how long we stayed, not sure what we did when we were there… thoughts were on Mickey, Goofy, roller coasters and seeing the smiles on the faces of my kids. I remember the morning we left, kids had barely slept the night before, too much excitement to spend a lot of time in sleepy-ville.
Before getting on the highway, we hit the drive-through at Mickey-Dees. Not a common occurrence for the Drizin’s, but when you have two eager beavers in the backseat wishing and whining for mickey-ears, an Egg Mcmuffin and hash browns sounds like a great plan. With food in hand, we took a left hand turn onto the on-ramp of the highway. And then, life took a dramatic twist.
In a heartbeat.
They said the young man driving the SUV was running from a drug buy gone bad, and from the cops. My rental car was “T-Boned”, hit broadside at about 80 miles and hour. A direct hit. I remember the ear-numbing sound, and then nothing. I remember feeling the back of my head, wondering why it was so wet. And then nothing. I remember yelling to see if everyone was OK. And then nothing. I remember seeing glass everywhere. And then nothing. And I remember being loaded into the ambulance. And then nothing.
The paramedics who arrived first on the scene saw Joanie and the boys standing outside the car… shook up, but OK. I was told that they didn’t think the person driving the car would be alive, the damage was that severe. I was told they cut me out of the car, put me in a neck and shoulder brace, then onto the stretcher, and then transported me to the nearest hospital.
Two inches to the left and I would have been killed. Two inches to the right and it could have been my younger son Max, strapped in his car seat. The driver hit me straight-on the safety cage of the car, he couldn’t have hit it any more cleanly if he tried. In fact, his “dead-on” precision, hitting my car where it was most strong and stable saved my life. Everything happened lightening fast.
In a blink of an eye.
We never got to Disney that year.
Tuesday night, Carla and I were asked to conduct a mindset workshop for the Women Empowering Women Network, a local organization giving women an avenue to live, learn, collaborate & connect. We’re pretty connected with this group, their CEO and board members are both personal friends and business colleagues. The event was held at Emmaus Christian Church, a beautiful church located in Lafayette Square Mall in Indianapolis.
The day before I was looking for some things for the event, and I came across a watch that was left at my house by one of Carla’s triplets, Kyle. Even thought the watch wasn’t working (a digital watch), I knew that he liked to wear it, so I gave it to Carla before she left our office for the day. I didn’t give it another thought… until.
In the blink of an eye.
The even went very well, Camishe, the head of the organization was happy with the presentation that Carla and I put together, as was the audience. We had a lovely visit with Pastor Henzy Green and his wife, Lady Nicole. We made some new friends, and thanked God for giving us the opportunity to help others doing the work that Carla and I love.
It was pretty late in the evening when I dropped Carla off at her house, I didn’t take the time to say good-night to the kids (even though it was WAY past their bedtime), as I had a dog that needed to go out. I didn’t sleep well Tuesday night, there are lots of things on my mind these days, including the amazing weekend at the Indianapolis Great Banquet (more about that on another blog post). For the last month or so, I’ve gotten up early every day to help get the triplets out of bed, get them dressed and fed, and then out to the bus-stop. Although getting up at 6 a.m. gets tiring sometimes, I enjoy the time I get to spend with them.
I usually check email/FaceBook before I leave for their house, and this was a note that Carla had on her FB page…
“Grateful to be alive at 4:30 am… The one night I didn’t check on the kids before going to bed myself, Kyle left a shirt draped over his lamp. Thank God his watch beeped and woke him up just before it caught on fire – plastic was melted… We are so lucky. Please teach your kids never to put something over a lamp!!”
In the blink of an eye.
I started shaking, thinking of “what might have been”. How “lucky” that we had the workshop Tuesday night that forced me to look for things boxed away. How lucky that the watch was found, how fortunate that I kept it, and gave it to Carla to give to Kyle. How lucky that the lamp I had bought him months earlier was made of a thicker plastic than the one I had considered buying. How amazing that the shirt he had placed over the lamp to provide a night-light for his brother was thick enough (and not made completely out of cotton) that it didn’t just burst into flame when the plastic melted. How fortuitous that his broken watch was on his wrist, that the alarm went off at exactly the time it had to (4.30 a.m.), how blessed that the soft sound of a beeping watch woke him completely up, that he smelled the smoke, got down from his loft bed, and hurridly woke up his mom. How blessed by God we were. And how quickly and dramatically things could have changed.
In the blink of an eye.
There is a wonderful healer in my life, my therapist Steven Cooper. He has taught me more in the last year than I can ever explain. He works with me, Carla, and the triplets. We have referred friends and family to him. He is truly part of our family. Steve said something to both me and Carla during one of our sessions late last year that changed the way we both see the present, and the future. I’m not sure what we were talking about at the time, and I won’t get the reference exactly right, but this is the gist.
It was October, and Steve said “October is almost gone. 10 blinks of an eye for each of the 10 months that have passed. For every year, you have only 12 blinks. In a decade, there are just 120 blinks in total. That is how quickly time passes.” It’s a story that we have repeated to our friends, associates, dream-catchers, and vibrant-lifers.
Ambrose Bierce, and American writer born in the 1840′s gave us this quote: “Day, n. A period of twenty-four hours, mostly misspent.”
Things can change in the blink of an eye.