Cherish every moment, because it could be your last. We oftentimes hear this statement made by older people and inspirational cards and in speeches. Do we truly grasp what it means, though? Up until this Saturday, I’d say I’ve done my best at being present in my own life and trying to enjoy every moment. I’ve studied mediation and read philosophical books that teach us to be present in every moment. I even have a tattoo of Buddha in front of a sunset with the words, Be Here Now, written below. Unfortunately though, as much as I want to say I’m living in the present, I am not.
I am normally worrying about everything in the future. I’m worried about saving money for the future. I’m worried about whether we will be able to fit everything into our schedules. I’m worried that I won’t be able to have children. I’m worried that I’ll miss out on all the fun in life. I’m worried about this and that, to the point that in every present moment my mind is full of thoughts. Instead of enjoying everything happy in the moment, I’m busy thinking about how I can make myself happy in the future. I’m always planning my next trip or job or milestone, instead of enjoying the one I’m in right now.
Saturday was no different. My boyfriend and I woke up with the plan to go snow shoeing in Mount Hood. I also wanted to make it to a film premier of a close friend. We got a slow start. I read my horoscope:
I don’t normally read it anymore, because they are very rarely accurate. I receive them in emails every day though. On Saturday, I decided to read it. I immediately brushed it off as usual, because there was no way this could be true of today. I moved on.
We got out of the house at 2:30. We drove to my boyfriend’s storage unit and moved stuff out of it to put in his new storage unit. We hit the highway and headed for the mountain. We talked about our beliefs on religion and how we want to raise our children. We don’t always agree exactly on how we want religion to be a part of their lives. I grew up with no religion and he grew up in the Lutheran church. We seem to always have this discussion on our rides up to the mountain. We rented snow shoes for me at the shop in Welches.
At around 3:30pm, we pulled into the parking lot at White River Snow Park. All day, I was planning my blog entry about snow shoeing and how important it is to get out into nature. There were so many families in the parking lot. Parents zipped up their kids in puffy snow suits that made them walk like mummies. Little boys yelped and hollered as they pushed each other in inner tubes down the blackened snow into the parking lot. The sky hung heavy over our heads, smothering us with a gray pillow. We scarfed down fiber-rich bread with honey chipotle peanut butter we bought at the night market and I plopped banana slices on top. We kissed each other with peanut butter still sticking to our lips. He had been here many times before and was excited to show me his spot for snow caving with his friends. We scaled the snow wall and plopped down our snow shoes on the slushy white snow. The day was warm and muggy.
I wiggled my phone out of my pocket with one glove off to snap pictures of the scenery. He rolled his eyes at me, because I always have my phone out, and he said, “can’t you just enjoy it for a moment without your phone?”
I responded, “yes, but I want to get pictures for my blog.”
Little kids waddled past us with their parents, making us smile. One guy asked us how long we would hike for, but we weren’t sure. We went off trail into the woods, ducking under branches and bobbing and weaving around holes. I tried to keep up with my boyfriend, but he walked with a mission. I finally caught up to him at the spot, he said was their snow caving place. He dug in the snow to see how deep it was, while I cowered in my hood with the sudden rain beating down. I was coated in a layer of tiny raindrops. He removed his jacket full of sweat from digging. I told him it was past 4 o’clock and we better get going if we were going to make it to the film premier.
Back on the main trail, the clouds had dissipated and revealed the shiny white face of Mount Hood. The whisper and whoosh of the white river rushing over the rock bed down the hill, brought chills to my spine. What a magnificent world we live in, I thought to myself. I fished out my cell phone yet again to snap pictures of the mountain in all its glory. It looked so proud, standing there in its white dress. We worked our way towards the river and heard its journey down the hill even louder. It cut through the snowy hills. We worked our way back to the parking lot, taking pictures as we left. We posed facing the mountain and the opposing hills blanketed in fog. One side of the sky was bright blue with cotton ball clouds and the other side was a heavy ominous gray that hung over the trees. We made it back to the parking lot to find it mostly empty. Lost scarves and hats hung on the rail below the sign. Two boys disobeyed their mother by continually flying down the incline on their tubes. One crashed into me as I removed my snow shoes.
In the car, I ate one more piece of bread with peanut butter and banana, getting all the crumbs on my lap. I checked my phone multiple times, worrying we wouldn’t make it back to town in time to go to the premier. My boyfriend told me to stop worrying. We talked about nature and the mountains. We discussed how we both felt we were Native American in a past life and definitely a tribe in the mountains, because of our affinity to them. We barreled down Rt. 26 at 50 mph. The sky was blue and the roads were clear. I looked up from my phone to see a silver car turning left in front of us. We both say, “what is he doing?” Before we know it, we’ve crashed. I open my eyes to see the air bag in front of me. The car is smoking, I hear him say, “get out! get out it could explode!” So I unclick my seat belt and fiddle with the door before jumping out. We reach the side of the road, to see not only our car smashed into the gray Honda but another car smashed into them on the other side. Miraculously, we can walk. We aren’t severely injured. I burst into tears in my boyfriend’s arms. We hold each other tightly, in silence, just crying into each others arms.
The next few hours melt by in a blur of sirens, screaming, blood, chest pains, aches, police reports, ambulances, hospitals, x-rays, home, and bed. In the ambulance, I remember my horoscope from the morning and reread it. It speaks of hard things happening, but being able to learn from them. I thank god I’m alive and that my boyfriend is alive. We are truly blessed by some thing out there to be safe. I realize I was barely present the entire day. Life is way too short for worrying about the future. I know now that the horoscope was a sign and I must cherish every moment, because that one could have been my last.