The Hard Is What Makes It Great

July 16, 2017

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About a month and a half ago I took these photos with my dear friend Erin in Florida during a long weekend. I had originally thought that this post would revolve around the weekend’s experiences of staying in a luxury hotel in Orlando, and unpack the power of being spontaneous. However, more and more I’m pulled to share that the true story is so much deeper, and has been developing for a well over a year, if not was always adding up to this moment.

About a year ago this time I was fraught with anxiety over the uncertainty of what comes next after grad school, questioning where was I meant to be, where I was to live, and wondering what was I going to pursue next in my career path. I remember randomly (or not so randomly) stumbling across the concept of “Non-attachment” in a blog post I was reading online and sensed it was an important way of thinking, but then had no idea how to apply it, or even truly understand how important it really is.

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It finally came together for me last weekend when-when my friend Erin and I reunited again in Burlington, Vermont. It was then that I faced death twice. To even type the words that I almost died instantly puts things into perspective. I hesitated even to write this post, but I think a part of one’s healing is sharing the messages you learn in dire times with others so that as many people as possible can grow, and we all can learn unique life lessons, and heal together in some way.

Within just a couple hours of being together, my friend had a seizure behind the wheel and completely lost control of the car. It was a miracle that no one got hurt and my friend was able to receive immediate medical attention. I’m a very spiritual person and although I was very shaken up from the experience, I was amazed that I was put in Erin’s path to protect her from a potentially very life-threatening outcome, and that I too was saved from harm.

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That Sunday when Erin was released from the hospital, her mom and I convinced her she would be safer at home with family and friends near, so we drove from Vermont back to her parents home outside of Boston. It wasn’t until we were feet from the exit on the highway we were supposed to take, that another car lost control and hit us at high speeds that caused the car we were in to hit the guardrail and go flipping 6-8 times in the air and crash into a tree at full force. We were able to free ourselves from the totaled vehicle and soon after emergency help came to the scene to assist us. The three of us received cuts, bruises, and minor head injuries,  but crawled out of that car alive.

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Looking at all the factors of the crash, we almost certainly should not be alive. This past week I’ve tried my best to return to my routine, but things such as driving over a bump while on the way to work, or hearing an ambulance in the distance, I’m instantly reminded of what happened. It feels so heavy. Thankfully, I’ve had the support of family and coworkers to get me through this. I’m left reflective of how fleeting life is and how instead of holding onto the trauma of the crash, I’m consciously choosing to let it go. This does not mean I’m indifferent to what happened, but rather that I accept that I’ve been given a life that could end at any moment and that I chose to see the beauty instead of focus on the fear.

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Non-attachment refers to the state of mind of being objective and not clinging, and it springs from a deep consideration of the conditions of human existence. So just as you can hold a picked flower in your hand, being well aware that the flower will wilt and die in a matter of days, taking in the smell and beauty of the flower, you can live your entire life savoring every moment knowing that in each moment everything can change and that it ultimately will.

Non-attachment is a state of mind that will help you both in times of joy and sorrow. Life is a mixture of pleasure and pain, of comfort and hardship. We cling to pleasure, hoping that it will never fade, and we are overwhelmed by pain, fearing that it will never end. By practicing non-attachment, we become able to endure difficult moments with a certain sense of ease, knowing that—as a wise saying goes—this too shall pass. In the same way, we can enjoy the beautiful moments of life without being tainted by the fear that they will end—as they undoubtedly will. For me, this means looking at each day as a gift and through the good and the bad at least I’m still breathing.

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All this doesn’t mean that I now live in uncertainty, fearing that everything I rely upon could fall apart at any given moment. Quite the opposite, not being attached to success and failure, or pleasure and pain, brings you back into connection with the only thing that is invariably present, stable, and safe: your center of pure awareness and pure love.

Accepting the impermanence of life means reshaping all of our beliefs about existence—but thanks to this process, the possibility arises for us to love unreservedly, without conditions, and without fear.

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Photography by Suzi Ibanez

This mantra has helped me a lot lately in processing the reality of facing near-death. I hope it can somehow help you too in your respective journey.

I am loved.

I have loved

I am love.

Blog-Signature-Hannah

2 comments

  • Patty Driscoll

    Hannah, I am SO thankful that you and Erin are safe and sound! What harrowing experiences! We do learn from the happenings in our lives! As you know, Bob suffers from anxiety. I will have him read this. I love this concept and your mantra! I just ordered “Meditations” Marcus Aurelius. Incredible mind! Please stay safe and continue your amazing life journey! Love you, Patty

  • Cheryl

    Life has given you a gift in these happenings and I’m so happy that you are choosing to receive the gift and continue to shine your light for yourself and the world. ❤️

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