One cool February evening when I was 18, I went out on a double date. The evening was cool, so I wore a sweater, my fringed suede jacket and a six-foot long scarf to keep warm. We went go-carting, and I was having fun and, being competitive, I was enjoying my half-lap lead.
But my fringe was getting caught in the engine, so I removed my jacket for our next set of laps. While waiting in line to pay, I heard a voice say, “Don’t go on!” I didn’t want to hold up the line, so I decided to go ahead anyway. When I jumped into my favorite go-cart, it wouldn’t go. I got into another, but after 20 feet it stopped, and I heard that voice again. It told me to button my top button!
I was annoyed at this extra delay (my friends were now way ahead), so I told the voice that I wouldn’t freeze and to just let me go! After 1-1/2 laps, my scarf flew out and started flapping behind me. I tried to catch it, but it got caught in the engine and yanked me right out of the cart. I was choking, and my eyes were blurring and almost popping out of their sockets! All I could think at the moment was, “This doesn’t happen in real life. This only happens in the movies!”
The reality of my situation sunk in when I realized I couldn’t breathe. I knew I couldn’t hold my breath very long, and I would probably die.
As I lay there, listening to myself choke, I heard that voice again. This time it said, “You haven’t accomplished anything and it isn’t about anything you’ve been taught. It isn’t about getting married, going to college, having a career or having children. It isn’t about any of that.”
All I could think at that moment was, “I am only 18! How much was I supposed to have accomplished by now?”
I felt a rush of fear, because I really didn’t want to die before doing something meaningful in my life. How horrible would that be? Dying was the easy part. If I just shut my eyes and let go, it would be done. But I prayed for help, because I just couldn’t die without having accomplished something. Luckily, at that point, my scarf was cut from my neck and I could breathe again.
After the accident, I was left physically and mentally battered. I didn’t know what to do, but I knew I had to do something. At the time, I only knew one person who meditated; everyone else either attended Bible study or weren’t doing anything. I knew that I never again wanted to hear those words: “You have not accomplished anything.”
I tried my friend’s meditation, but I was too hyper to sit still for that, and besides, staring at the wall was just too weird.
About a year after the accident, I came home from work to find friends of my roommate visiting. I was in the kitchen. I couldn’t make out what they were saying, but I felt something that ignited a spark inside of me. It suddenly dawned upon me that that could be what the voice talked about. When the visitors spoke about their experience, I felt the truth of it, and I knew that was it!
That moment started me on my journey of self-awareness. Like every journey, it has had its ups and downs. In the beginning, I was so worried that I would not find what the voice was talking about that it blinded me. Now, however, I don’t think the voice was telling me I was bad. It was simply telling me that there is more to life than what you hear, see and touch.
I have worked hard during the last 40 years to be accomplished in many things. Not long ago, I realized that pursuing your own inner truth is how you accomplish things in your life. It’s just that simple. I found that healing addresses my inner truth. The more I heal, the more I know my truth.