Gratitude comes at me in so many different ways it’s not even funny. It’s easy to be grateful for family, friends, achievements, and stuff like that- because those are some of the best things in life. Naturally, we like these things.
Today though I found myself feeling gratitude for an event that could’ve been immensely worse had the dice been shaken differently and thrown a different way. The kind of gratitude that left me with something I cherish deeply: life.
Taking things back a bit, and I’m cruising through Thailand on a bike I rented from the mountainous Pai area to head back down to the bustling but charming city of Chiang Mai. I had trekked up about a week prior and now it was time to head south again to move on to the next leg of our journey, back down the mountain highway.
Winding through the road with the smell of a jungle-y forest and the remnants of the rain that had swept through an hour ago made for an unreal ride. After about a quarter of the way down, we stopped to grab a tea as these two particular Canadian boys had somehow already become climatized enough that temperatures in the mid-to-low twenties were actually making us chilly, in lieu of the usual high thirties.
Not even an hour after sending my mid-journey snaps and messages to people back home, winding around the corner I caught a blanket of gravel while trying to hang the curve to the right.
It didn’t work so good, and in a split second, I spilled over top of the handlebars and onto the highway, crashing to the ground.
I immediately jumped up, in a daze while I tried to make sense of what just happened. Braden had slipped in front and hadn’t seen me tumble.
The tingly-sensation of shock crept across my body as I instinctively screamed his name, hoping he would hear and come back for me.
I began to feel out of body as I looked over my wounds, looking but not really seeing them. Noticing the shock in my body rising, I began reassuring myself despite the fact that the pain hadn’t set in yet- this concerned me.
I watched as a few cars drove past me, my wounds beginning to bleed and my shredded poncho reduced to just a symbol of what had happened. On queue, Braden raced around the corner, and a local pulled over and ran to my assistance. I’m not even really sure how everything happened from there on, but the bike was pulled from under the guard rail and I was loaded into the local’s vehicle- a man named Te (who had at some point also enlisted the help of another local woman, who climbed in quickly to take me to the hospital. I could feel my bearings coming back to me, and while this was nice, this was accompanied by the corresponding pain.
Three doctors hurriedly but meticulously cleaned the various wounds ranging from my shoulders to my feet. Braden and Te made sure to capture the whole encounter through photos, as Te was incredulously and affectionately calling me Superman as I refused to take a photo without smiling. Albeit some were downright forced, as the skin in the right side of my body were scraped and scrambled like ground beef cooking over the stove.
Slowly, in between the winces the whole ordeal slowly crystallized in my mind. The bike jammed into the metal plated guardrail, the way I fell off the bike and protected my head, and the local who found me and came to my rescue instantly, loading me into his car, blood and all.
Sitting there finishing getting cleaned and sterilized, and the bandages relieving some of the pain, I realized how lucky I was.
Not going to lie, tears formed in my eyes.
Te waited for the duration until I was cleared to leave the hospital, and while his English was a little less developed, he understood enough for us to embrace each other and revel in the moment.
I sat there with the most tremendous and profound gratitude for life and the way I had avoided being closer to an encounter that jeopardized it. Reality hits me in different ways, but nothing could stop me from the thankfulness for the severity of the situation and the kindness shown from absolute strangers.
Toughness is a quality I’ve been both unpacking and exploring lately, and even on the ride to the hospital, however delusional it may be, I was thankful for the opportunity to show myself that I was tougher than this event. Someone dear to me explained the beauty in adversity, and how in these moments we find out who we really are and in turn presented with an opportunity for growth.
I can definitely be a big baby some times, but through this I was excited to dig down and power through it. A little unorthodox? Maybe. But after today there’s no other way to frame it.
I’m sure I could look at it all from a different lens, criticizing the roads, weather, luck, or maybe even my driving. But truthfully that sounds like such a bizarre concept that accepting that is less likely than me getting my damage deposit back on the bike I just crashed.
Not a freakin’ chance.
I’m going to keep loving life, loving today, and carry it with me tomorrow.
What about you? Leave me a comment and tell me something you’re grateful for!
|Te, left side in the red shirt. The doctors/nurses who mended me. And the woman who guided Te to the hospital!|