What's Important, and What's Not

There's a good chance I should be spending tonight in a hospital somewhere in Atlanta. Instead, I'm sitting here on my couch, drinking the best Gatorade I've ever tasted (the key is adding a little more powder than you're supposed to) and thinking about what's important.

I was in a hit and run accident this afternoon on my way home from work. This is the second accident that I've been involved in the past five days. Two cars totaled, one sore neck. Apparently my reckless streak is catching up with me.

The accident today was a lot worse than the first, which was a simple rear-ending (whoops!). Today I was going about 70mph down the interstate, when a guy in a Mercedes dodged through two lanes of traffic and slammed into my passenger side going about 100mph. He kept going, I spun around three or four times, hitting another poor woman's car, flipping the back of my car up and landing on the median. At least that's what I've been told, it's all kind of a blur to me. Life really slows down when you're spinning out of control, and it's both revealing and funny the things that are important in that moment.

"I hope I get out of this okay, I want to see my nephews grow up."

"Is my car seriously in the air right now?"

"Will I be able to find my iPhone?"

Profound stuff, I know.

The aftermath of the wreck is a little different though. One minute you're driving home from work, stressed because sales are down and you don't know how to fix it, and the next, you've got a serious adrenaline rush and everyone is telling you "close call" and how lucky you are to be walking away from this unscathed. It really makes you realize how fragile life is, and puts into focus the things that are important. At the end of the day, here's whats important, and here's whats not:

IMPORTANT

Faith: Some people may say I'm a lunatic/uneducated fool/product of a southern upbringing, but this is really important to me. I could quote a bunch of C.S. Lewis quotes or Bible verses, but if you don't believe it's important, probably nothing I'm going to say here will change your mind. I'll just say that a relationship with a loving, graceful God changes your perspective on the world, and makes everything else on this list a little more substantial and wondrous.

Family: The people that understand you better than anyone else. They know your strengths and weaknesses, you're weird quirks (even numbers only on car radio volumes, thank you very much). They've seen you laugh till you hurt, yell till you cry and cry till you're empty. Don't take family for granted. Tell them daily that you love them, even when you're mad, and especially when you're hurt. Have a short memory on the bad, and a long memory on the good. Be honest with them, and be quick to forgive when they're too honest with you. Above all, love them well.

Community: I love that tonight my phone has been ringing off the hook, even if I haven't been answering most of your calls. That means I have great friends, and I'm not doing life alone. Love these people well too, they are your adopted family.

Purpose: A sense that I am on this Earth for a reason, and that I'm uniquely created to be someone that no one else is. For years I've tried to fit the mold, run with the right crowds, know the right people, buy the right things. What matters is that I strive to be the best Bryan that I can possibly be (that sounds a little like something on Reading Rainbow, but I don't know how else to put it), and life will be a bit easier if I embrace and celebrate that everyone is unique. Encourage people's strengths, have grace with their weaknesses.

Wonder: It's so important to have a sense of wonder about the world around you. Without it, I can assure you that your life will be long and you will be grouchy. Laugh for no reason, explore a new city, climb a mountain and when people ask "Why?" tell them, "Because it's there!". Curiosity is vastly underrated in our day and age. Embrace it.

NOT IMPORTANT:

Houses, iPhones, IKEA furniture and the latest fashions: Anything that you can buy and lose in a week is not important. It might seem important for a day, or a month, or even ten years, but ultimately, when you're life is as temporal as ours are, iPhones are pretty stupid things to be living our lives for. Agree to live simply. Spend a lot less money on things, and more on experiences and unexpected generosity. Turn off the television (or your texting!) and actually talk to your roommates. Buy gifts just for the hell of it.  You won't regret it.

Opinions: There's a reason why op-eds are separated from news articles in most papers. It's because they're not truth. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, yes, but don't let other people's views dictate who you are. Identity is something that our Creator alone instills in us, but most times we listen to what everyone else says about us, instead of what the God who loves us most says about us. Be confident in who you are. Do you love to watch House Hunters all night? More power to you (Yes, you, Joel Perkins). Are you infatuated with painting but no one "gets it"? Paint anyway and hang them proudly. Do you hate the thought of corporate life? Go get a job you're passionate about, and if no one will hire you, make something up yourself (talking to myself here).

Being Interesting: My goodness I struggle with this one. The people who you want to be around don't like you for what you've done, they like you for who you are. There's a big difference. If you're hanging out with people who only care what you've done, or for that matter, what you can or will do, you're going to end up disappointed, lonely and bitter.

Your Salary: As long as you're living within your means, how much you make is not the least bit important. Comparing yourself with others will always frustrate you. There will always be someone who has more than you. Imagine how frustrated Kanye West must be that Bill Gates is so much richer than him. That's no way to live. Just enjoy what you have, and use it for good.

Toyota Carollas: I should know, I've gone through two of them this week.


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    DADGUM Boy. Glad you made it. Hate to think of you going this soon. Did they catch the A-hole?

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