Simple and Fragile

‘How simple and fragile life is…’

Can you imagine how the world would change if we all began each day with this knowing? Unfortunately, we seem to be a species that usually learns via hindsight and those who do wake with this knowing usually do so because a fresh loss has reminded them of this truth.

In trauma research, those who are interviewed after experiencing an extreme event (such as a near fatal car accident) often say that time begins to move in slow motion in the millisecond that passes between their awareness of the fact that they are going to be in an accident and the actual impact. There are many documented reports of this phenomenon and brain researchers often call it hyper-arousal. In basic terms, it seems that when we are facing a fatal or near fatal event, the brain unleashes a flurry of chemicals that slow everything down so that what is occurring in that split second of real time, unfolds in glorious ecstatic detail to the one whose life is on the line.  Most recall these moments before impact as being filled not with fear- but with peace and beauty.

I know, feeling peace and beauty before a horrendous physical accident seems counter-intuitive, but there are far too many accounts of this phenomenon for it to be dismissed. I happen to think that the brain has a wisdom that we can learn from and lately my opinion of this has grown even stronger.  I can still remember the first time I used the ‘slow motion’ video feature on my phone. I was filming our young son’s soccer game, something I had done a hundred times before. Yet, when I played it back it was astonishing to me how much raw emotion was evoked as I watched him run in slow motion across that field. Just being able to see in detail the symphony of movements that  rippled through every inch of his body as his foot made contact with the ball changed everything.  That ‘accidental’ 7 second clip of video gave me so much more to savor than my simple human perception was able to.

Can you imagine if life had a slow motion button? If we could flip a switch that would allow us to hobble the hands of time so that we could watch a smile spread slowly across a child’s face? Or appreciate the way an autumn leaf tumbles across a windswept lawn? I imagine it would be the ultimate tonic for our inability to capture the moments before they are gone.

Just for today, try to bring these six words with you into your day, ‘Life is so simple and so fragile.’  Notice how they change the way that you view the world. It may not be a slow motion button but it could still create some very special effects.