I’ve ignored my intuition on many occasions, but this one seems to resonate with people the most…
On December 8, 1998 at approximately 6:35pm, I was almost killed by a car while running across a crosswalk. The driver fled the scene and was never found. When I was hit, I flew through the air (according to one witness) into the intersection, was knocked out, had a list of broken bones, my eye cut open, my head bleeding, and headlight glass embedded into my hand, some of which was removed over 3 different surgeries and some of which still remains. The police officer at the scene later said that if I’d been a foot ahead, I would have been dead (because the car would have hit me head on instead of clipping me with it’s passenger side).
Over the years, my conversations around the accident have had more to do with how I recovered, what injuries remain, how I often have a bit of heat radiating from the area of my thigh where the bumper hit me, how incredibly painful it was to have stitches removed from my index finger, and the amazement that someone could actually leave a pedestrian lying on the street. However, I believe the more pertinent conversation is around intuition and the trouble it causes when we don’t listen to it. Too often, we get stuck in our heads with analysis and judgment, which hinders our ability to listen to what our gut is trying to tell us.
What does my accident have to do with intuition? Looking back, I believe there were 3 moments, or clues, when my intuition was trying to give me better direction.
The night of my accident, I was intent on going for a run. I didn’t feel like going, but I chalked up my hesitation to the motivation that’s typically lacking before getting off the couch for a workout, and told myself I’d feel better once the run was over. I threw on my gear and started running, with the final destination being a friend’s house.
Clue #1. As soon as I left my place, it started to rain. My initial reaction was to turn back because I wasn’t dressed for wet weather, but my head told me to keep running so I could get the exercise in, burn the calories, and stay ‘on track’ with my ‘health’ program.
Clue #2. A few minutes before I reached the intersection where I would be hit, I was running down a poorly lit street, but one that I was familiar with because I used to live there. As I passed my old house (2 blocks from where the accident would happen), I had a strange feeling in my gut, almost like there was a rope reeling me in from my waist, similar to a magnet, trying to prevent me from moving forward. I remember it so clearly but I justified my reaction by assuming that I was just anxious to get closer to a well lit street.
Clue #3. When I reached the corner of the intersection where I was hit, the walk light was blinking, signalling that I had the right of way. But rather than immediately running across the crosswalk, I hesitated and thought I should wait under an awning out of the rain. The idea of waiting was very much unlike me (I would have considered stopping running to be lazy and I didn’t want to lose my momentum), but something in my gut told me that even though I had the right of way, I shouldn’t run into the crosswalk. However, from what I understand (because I have no memory of the accident from this point forward) and am quite certain of, I decided to run into the crosswalk anyway.
The next thing I knew, I was lying in the middle of the intersection with rain falling on my face and a paramedic persistently asking my name so I could regain consciousness and so he could determine if I had any brain damage. As it turned out, the driver had run the red light, hitting me while I was in the crosswalk. Neither of the 2 witnesses were able to secure a license plate of the driver’s car.
I know I was lucky to survive, I’m grateful for all of the things I’ve learned and experienced as a result of this accident, and I believe everything (good or bad) happens for a reason. And although 2 of those clues maybe should have convinced me to turn back home, perhaps that last split second hesitation at the crosswalk is what ultimately saved my life.
But with equal passion, I believe in the power of intuition. I believe that if we trusted ourselves enough, we would follow our gut more often, and a result, we wouldn’t end up in the unfortunate, precarious, less than ideal situations we sometimes find ourselves. Think about it. When was the last time you said, “I wish I hadn’t followed my gut”? My guess is never.