“It’s Only a Car.”

July 31, 2009

Jason in Van

In our lives, there are times when we find ourselves in a situation where we’ve done our best to keep up, to do what’s right and despite our most valiant efforts, our best just isn’t good enough. Simply put, something goes wrong, or we wrong another and we have to face the consequences. Mistakes, accidents, lapses in judgement, call them what you will, but they happen to us all, and many times there isn’t anything more we can do than just ask for some forgiveness.

As hard as it is to ask for forgiveness, sometimes I think it’s even more difficult to dole it out. We all want forgiveness and, when we need it, we want it by the pound for the penny. However, when someone comes to ask for forgiveness, and we are asked to give it, the only pound we often think of is the pound of flesh we believe that we deserve.

I learned a great lesson about forgiveness early in my driving career.

I grew up in Boise, Idaho and for reasons that made a lot of sense to me then, but make very little sense to me now, we were able to be licensed to drive when we were 14. On the day I got the little piece of plastic that made it legal for me to drive, our family didn’t have a “third car” or “kids car” so, much of my early driving happened in a big brown GMC van. It was often hard to see everything from every angle in the brown beast. But, ended up being a great learning environment for all of the vans I would have to drive later as a result of my injury.

In my teens, through all the foolishness, I worked hard to respect my parents property and did my best not to make a mistake. But, just like anyone driving a 1/2 ton van, it was often difficult to see everything from every angle.

One Saturday, I was backing my van out of the garage and sweating bullets because, as I looked out my rear view mirror, I saw my dad’s brand-new BMW parked on the opposite side of the driveway. Carefully, slowly and working to anticipate every possible situation, I slowly moved my van through the driveway, and toward the street.

Just as I felt I was home free, I heard the sound nearly every teenager dreads–that horrible steel on steel sound that puts a hole where your stomach once was.  My van had hit his pristine “Beemer” and I feared the worst. I quickly put the van in Park and hustled around to see how much damage had been done.

I was grateful to see that there were no dents, but ruined as I saw the scratch that went across both doors on the drivers side. My first thought was that hopefully I could just buff them out. Regardless which car product I used or how much elbow grease I applied, the scratch just simply wouldn’t go away.

Finally, I knew what I had to do. I went into my dad and told him that I’d hit his car. He asked if I was okay, and I told him that it wasn’t that kind of accident. We walked outside and for what seemed like hours, he quietly circled his “Not Just a Car but a Driving Machine” occasionally looking back at at the Van.

Over and over I kept telling him how sorry I was and how I’d work off every penny. I kept explaining how I’d been so careful, and how I was sure I was far enough away. Finally, he turned to me ready to speak and I prepared myself to never again see another penny and be grounded until I was 24 (basically life in my young eyes). It was then when he taught me a lesson of a lifetime.

He turned to me and said, “It’s only a car, son.” He put his arm around me and with my jaw dragging on the floor, we went back into the house.

I was blown away. Not because I felt like I had somehow gotten off easy. But, because of the words he said. I kept thinking about all the ways he could have handled the situation, all the punishments he could have offered up, and about his words, “It’s only a car, son.”

I know he was upset. I know he was disappointed that his car had been damaged. I know it was going to be an expense he didn’t want to have to pay. There were many lessons he could’ve taught me that day. The value of a dollar, the importance of being a careful driver, the way you have to take responsibility for your actions, etc. But that day, he decided to teach me a lesson about forgiveness.

In my life today, when someone does me wrong I try to remember his message. I try to remember that, for the most part the things we get upset about, are just that, things. And, that what matters most are the people we interact with and the way they feel when our interaction is over.

There are many that will say he was too easy, there are many that will say he was too soft, and that that kind of parenting just doesn’t work.

It wasn’t the way he parented every day, but on that day his choice was the right one. For, the trade-off was worth it. That day, he taught me a lesson I have worked to never forget, one we would all do well to remember. He taught me that even when the stakes are high we can still forgive, we can still be kind, we can still work to be understanding of others.

The next time you are wronged and you begin to exact your pound of flesh remember that things can be replaced and people can’t, Remember that in the end “It’s only a car.”

Jh-

This summer has been crazy, and I haven’t been blogging as regularly as I should have. I’m coming out with a little Mea Culpa and asking for a little understanding and forgiveness. I’m working to be more regular with my posts in order to keep you interested and coming back more frequently.


Freedom

July 4, 2009
Independence Day

Independence Day

On this Fourth of July people’s minds begin to turn to their freedoms. They begin to think about how grateful they are to live in a country where they can live, act, and worship freely.

I too am grateful for these freedoms. I am grateful for the price paid by so many to allow me to have those freedoms. Often, I think it becomes easy to forget that the freedoms we sometimes so easily take for granted can, if were not careful, be taken away.

On July 13, 1986 I very nearly lost my freedom.

I was involved in a diving accident that caused me to become a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the chest down. So many things were taken from me that day. Many of them were simple and basic freedoms. Like the freedom to feed myself. The freedom to get around without a wheelchair. The freedom to get in and out of bed on my own. The freedom to bathe, shave and dress myself.

Then, on the 21st of November, a car accident took even more freedoms.

But truth be told, through it all, some pretty incredible people have allowed me to keep the freedoms that matter most.

After my diving accident, friends sent me pictures that reminded me of their love and support. Along with the posters they also sent, those photos were plastered all over my room. These good people reminded me that I was free to be a part of their lives, and free to let their support lift me up when I felt down.

Good Friends

Good Friends

Good Stuff

Good Stuff

During both accidents, and through any other little bump in the road, my family continues to support me all the way. They made it clear that I was free to be a part of a family all my days on the earth. They reminded me that I was free to dream; free to go and do anything my mind believed that I could achieve. They  taught me I was free to ignore the negativity that so often others tried to surround me with.

Good Support

Good Support

Good Fun

Good Fun

Literally, weeks into meeting Kolette she let me know that I was free to expect the same kind of relationship that able bodied young men did. From the moment we were wed, she showed me that unconditional love was also a freedom I could count on. The moment she stood in that emergency room after the car accident she made it abundantly clear that her dedication was a freedom I could never lose. Throughout my life Kolette has taught me that I’m alway free to love life.

Good Love

Good Love

Good Times

Good Times

Now, Coleman’s innocent eyes seemed to communicate that I’m free to love and be loved in return. Over and over, he reminds me that I’m free to try and, although things may not always work out the way I’d planned, we are free to figure things out on our own. We may not get things on our first try, and when we do get them, it may not always be pretty, but he allows us the freedom to find our own rhythm and our own path.

Good Boy

Good Boy

I know there are others who aren’t as lucky as I. I know that there are many in my situation who simply go home from the hospital and stay there. I know one young man whose family brought him home from the hospital after his diving accident, built him a large bay window, and every day sat him in front of that window. He ended up spending every day of what ended up to be a very short life literally “watching the world go by.”

So on this day of celebrating freedom, I celebrate mine. As I do so, I celebrate the countless numbers of people who have helped me to fight for the freedom I have, and so I celebrate them as well. I celebrate the freedom my future holds.

I celebrate life.

Jh-

Two weeks before my accident

Two weeks before my accident


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