As most of those close to me know, one year ago we lost my father-in-law in a tragic car accident. It was sad, sudden and left us all with a gut wrenching feeling of lack of control.
Despite the title of my post, the accident had nothing to do with a rear-view mirror although we will never know the cause. Regardless, the accident had a significant impact on many aspects of my life.
For me, the loss was a wake-up call. My health, my relationships and what matter most all become front and center. While addressing the fallout and picking up the pieces, I was dealing with reality and pragmatism; perhaps the business person in me and perhaps the fact the it was the role that my father-in-law expected me to play. It can be hard to wrap your head around the fact that someone you love was taken away from you so soon. You will never be prepared for this moment, but I like to believe there is a message in each tragedy that comes our way, especially death. Death can teach us so much about life and for me, I learned the value of a rear-view mirror.
I used to see this as a tool for seeing what would prevent me from safely changing lanes. A quick look up, a look in the rear-view mirror followed by a glance over the shoulder provided me enough information to know if it was safe to change lanes. However, I now realize that looking up and looking over your shoulder only provides you with empirical data based on the moment you look. The true value happens when you apply history — the learnings of past experiences to not only safely change lanes but safely look into the past while continuing to confidently drive to the future. Mike’s death made me appreciate the the rear-view mirror as a metaphor for living in the present, embracing what you have and quickly revisiting memories.
With a rear-view mirror you –
You appreciate the people around you more, you want to let them know how you feel or how much you care about them while you have the chance. You take that extra minutes to let people know they matter to you. You don’t hold things in as much as you used to because you know the sting of leaving important words unsaid; knowing that you will never get the chance to say them.
Seeing the past through the rear-view mirror allows you to let go of resentment, envy, greed and anxiety (or at least be aware when you are doing it). Memories are the only way to bring someone back to life and we can’t think positively about memories if we spend our time looking away; look forward and look in the rear-view mirror.
It put the time I have with my family in perspective. I no longer get (as) agitated by the little things I cannot control at work and choose to leverage the past to enable the future.
The rear-view mirror is there for a reason and I hope you use it — and the memories that make you who you are.