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Life Lessons Learned Sitting On A Curb In Key West

I know what you’re probably thinking…”what in the world is Shane talking about?” No, this isn’t an account from a wild night of partying on famous Duvall Street.

Quite the contrary. I spent last week on vacation in Cudjoe Key and the end to an otherwise relaxing and peaceful trip gave me a renewed appreciation and outlook on life. I wanted to share with you my story and some of the lessons I took from my experience.

Thursday July 13, 2009 started out as another day in paradise. My girlfriend and I woke up to the sun shining over the crystal blue waters of the Florida Keys.

This was the fourth day of our vacation staying in a friend’s house in Cudjoe Key. In all my travels I don’t think I’ve been to a more peaceful and beautiful setting.

For most of the week we were content never leaving the community. We rode bicycles everywhere we went, relaxed at the pool during the day, and watched shooting stars from our patio at night. It was about as perfect of a vacation that I could want or ask for.

The Trip To Key West…

Well on this morning we decided we’d leave our little island paradise and head down to Key West to take in the sights and play tourists for the day. For the duration of the afternoon we strolled Duvall street and “people watched” all the interesting characters.

After staying to watch the sunset from the famous pier at the “Southern most part of the US” and having dinner at the Conch Republic Seafood Company (very good by the way) we got in our rental car to head back home to Cudjoe Key.

Your Situation Can Change In The Blink Of An Eye…

It had been a wonderful day and we couldn’t wait to get back home. We’ll this is when it all went down hill. Stopped at a red light only a few minutes from town a car slammed into us from behind without warning.

The driver had fallen asleep and hit our vehicle without even hitting the brakes. The impact was so violent that it drove our car about ten feet into the intersection.

I had blacked out momentarily from the impact and came back to consciousness with EMS personnel bracing my head telling me not to move.

After a few minutes I got my bearings and exited the vehicle to find that by the grace of God nobody was seriously injured. My girlfriend, the driver of the other car, and her passenger were all at least on their feet and walking around.

What Went Through My Mind…

As I sat on the curb in the aftermath, thought after thought went through my mind. My first thought was to pray, thanking God for watching over us and sparing our lives. Looking at the damage the impact made on both cars I knew we were lucky to be alive.

Although dazed and pretty much “out of it” I sat in silence and started thinking of everything I had to be thankful for. Here are some of my thoughts and the lessons that can be learned from the experience.

1. Always…always….always wear your seatbelt!

My girlfriend and I were both wearing our seatbelts and had we not been I probably wouldn’t be writing you this blog post today.

You can’t imagine the velocity that a 2000 pound car can produce when hitting another vehicle. I can testify now to the shear force that is produced and it’s a pretty scary thing.

Without seatbelts we would’ve undoubtedly been ejected out of the vehicle straight through the windshield.

I have personally been guilty of not putting my seatbelt when jumping in the truck to go only a “few minutes down the street.” It’s usually that irritating beep that prompts me to put my seatbelt on when I forget.

I can assure you that my seatbelt now goes on immediately every time I step in a vehicle. I encourage you to please…please…please wear your seatbelt. It really could save your life.

2. Don’t sweat the small stuff!

We’ve all heard this before but it warrants repeating. There’s no sense getting stressed out over things that in the end really won’t matter that much in the context of your life.

Next time you find yourself getting all worked up over something ask yourself, “what is the worst thing that can happen here?” Is this a life or death matter? If not, try to focus on everything you have to be thankful for instead of whatever your short-term issue or problem is.

Life is series of highs and lows; nobody is exempt from dealing with problems. Yeah sure the whole accident deal, dealing with the rental car company, and the difficulties of trying to get back home was something I could validate be stressed about, but instead I simply rejoiced in the fact we were safe and alive.

Mere bumps in the road are just that; leave your worries for the important things in life.

3. When life’s problems come keep moving forward!

It’s easy to get off track when life throws a monkey wrench in your plans. How many times have you gotten derailed with your exercise program for example when something unexpected came up? Go ahead and plan on these things happening in your life. When you get set back simply try to keep moving forward.

The trauma from our accident left me pretty shaken up for several days. I knew that I couldn’t return to my “regular workouts” right away and the doctor informed me that it would be a little while for the “cobwebs” to fully clear.

So for the last few days I’ve been simply walking on a treadmill. It’s a far cry from the workout intensity I’m used to but its movement and that’s very important.

The longer you go off your routines the harder it is to get back on track later. When life’s problems come make whatever adjustments you have to but keep pressing on.

4. Don’t neglect to tell the people closest to you that you love them!

In life we have no guarantees for our tomorrows. I think probably one of the worst pains someone can experience is regret in their heart. Tell the people you care for that you love them each and every day.

If something would unexpectedly happen today, do the people you care about the most know you love them? Never take this for granted. When something traumatic happens in your life it will put this in crystal clear perspective.

5. Be kind to people and they’ll be kind to you!

Many people have a negative attitude towards police officers due to a previously bad experience. I’ve had a handful of instances in my life where I certainly wasn’t treated with “brotherly love” by an officer of the law but I always try to put it in perspective.

I understand that you’re dealing with people and the law of averages is always at work. Not everyone you meet will be a nice person…but be nice to people anyways.

The police officers who responded to our accident were exceptionally kind and helpful. We were respectful and kind to them and they simply returned the favor. It’s easy to get upset and take your frustration and anger out on the people who are simply doing their jobs, or the person who is at fault.

By refraining from doing so at the accident we were able to eliminate a big problem. You see our rental car had to be towed away and we were still 25 miles from where we were staying.

 We had nobody to call and no way to get back home. One of the officers took pity on our situation and offered to take us home in his cruiser. Did he have to do this? Of course not. It wasn’t his responsibility but he did it out of kindness.

 I certainly won’t ever forget this selfless act of kindness on his part. The lesson…be nice to people and more often than not they’ll be nice to you.

Shane Doll is a certified Charleston Personal Trainer, speaker, fitness expert, and founder of Shaping Concepts Personal Training Studios.

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