Being Present Every Moment

A little over a week ago, I wrote a post about my experience at my most recent race, Ironman Vineman 70.3. In it, I focused largely on the role meditation played not only in the race itself, but in the days leading up to it. I’m in the process of working on my own personal development in terms of being more mindful, less distracted and more present. It’s a catch phrase we hear and read  time and time again: we need to be present. But for some reason, it sometimes doesn’t seem to register. Above is a picture of a friend / age group competitor, Sharley (on the left) with the incredibly inspiring Karen Aydelott , who’d lost her leg as a result of injuries sustained when she was hit by a car on her bike, and Bridget Dawson, a friend of Sharley’s. Minutes before that picture was taken, I’d met Karen Aydelott and taken a picture with her, after learning her story and having that chance to get to know her, just a little. I hadn’t met Bridget but had seen her at other races in the past, so when I saw the picture you’re seeing above in a text from Sharley a couple of days ago, at first glance, I thought she was simply sending me some images as happy race day memories. Sadly, I was mistaken. Sharley’s reason for sending me the image was to let me know that just days after the race, Bridget Dawson had been hit by a car and killed during a training ride. She was well within the boundaries of the wide bike lane when a distracted driver veered far right, striking her, causing her to be ejected from her bike. Dawson landed in a ditch on the east side of the road and sustained multiple fractures and bruises. She was pronounced dead around 7:35 p.m (1). We read about instances like this all the time but I suppose when it hits close to home, it resonates on an even deeper level. And despite the reminders on billboards telling us not to text while driving, the fines assessed if one is caught while doing so or just the mere common sense that taking your eyes off the road for a split second is a bad idea is still not enough from acting on impulse when something suddenly tells us we’ve got to check Facebook immediately or see if our friend has replied to a message. I include myself in this category; I kept my phone charging in the console and would check it at a light. You’re stopped, right? So no big deal? Maybe, maybe not but how many times have you done this and when you check to see if the light’s turned green, and are just about to hit the gas, you see a person has suddenly appeared right in front of your car, perhaps crossing the road a few seconds too late? I’ve done it. And it’s scared the heck out of me and it put me in check and I still did the same thing again at another time. Enough. Effective immediately- the phone goes in my back seat or even trunk where it can’t be reached. That woman could have been me; it could have been my husband and it could have been any of us. Things happen for a reason, often reasons we can’t understand on a human level, and while we can’t let tragedies like this stop those of us who cycle up and down PCH stop us from doing so to the fullest, we also can’t ignore senseless accidents like this. We can each do our own work on personal growth and learn to be more mindful, more present and regardless of how long it may take to arrive in the space of embodying Zen, so long as we’re on the path, we can have our ups and downs as we learn to become more aware during our day to day lives. But as drivers, we cannot, not even for a second, allow ourselves to be anything but 100% present when we’re behind the wheel. (1)