LIFE

Monday was the first time I’ve ever actually been almost run over by a car. I know I’m in Southeast Asia where drivers are aggressive, but I’m careful. I was walking back to my apartment after Muay Thai training in Bangkok and decided to get some groceries. At a crosswalk, I waited for cars to slow before I crossed. One truck zoomed by, then I saw my opening. The SUV saw me crossing, and even still, the driver slowed down only right before colliding into me– I had to stop the hood with my right hand. Thankfully only my wrist was a little messed up, but I was honestly extremely shaken. I literally felt like a deer in the headlights, watching the car drive directly at me, but unable to escape. I couldn’t walk any faster or slower since the cars were going in the opposite direction in front of me and were already passing behind me. Everything happened so quickly, but in my head, time melted, and I saw everything like someone had slowed down the tape of my life. When the car came in contact with my hand I jumped back, staring at the driver in disbelief. “What the f**k?!” I shouted out loud even though the Thai driver probably could not hear or understand me. The cars behind him honked, and I glared at the driver before continuing across the street in a daze. I walked to the store, my mind still moving sluggishly, in shock that I had been so close to death. If the car had stopped half a second later, I might have been severely injured or perhaps wouldn’t even be here anymore, an extremely terrifying thought that took me a while to fully process.

I’ve been extremely fortunate in my life with only a few close calls while growing up and traveling. But this was my closest brush with death yet, and hopefully the last for a very, very long time. This incident made me think a million things. What is the value of a human life? How can some societies value life more than others? How can life change so much in a blink of an eye?

In Thailand, drivers drive aggressively and recklessly, weaving through traffic and in and out of lanes. It seems as if it’s almost a game for motor-taxis to dodge cars and come out unscathed. Master Toddy, the Master of our Muay Thai gym in Bangkok, even joked that in Thailand drivers never look in the rearview or side mirrors! He said the population of Thailand should be much higher if they didn’t have so many accidents, a comment which hit a bit too close to home. In Thailand, life and death seem to have a different significance than in the US. The driver never stopped to check on me to make sure I was ok. To him, I was just another pedestrian, some random person. It didn’t matter that I’m an American with a college education, that worked in Silicon Valley, that has been backpacking around the world for over a year. To him, I was just a person crossing the street and in his way.

For me, this moment was another reminder to live life exactly how I need to. I wouldn’t call this a wake up call per se because I changed my life drastically a year ago to backpack and discover the best way to live my life. But I did have to reassess my life choices and differentiate between what I want to do and what I need to do to fulfill my purpose. It made me question how I could be so far away from the people I love and care about. If today were my last day, how could I be across the world from them? What I want in life is to live close to my family and be happy settling in one place. But at least for now, I feel the need to be abroad. If I am to teach Safe & Solo and create the biggest impact, there is a larger traveler hub outside of San Francisco, which means I will most likely be abroad for the foreseeable future. Thus, whatever I’m doing abroad MUST be more critical than being home and with the people I love.

And what is “home” anyways? I’m still figuring out my own definition. Is “home” where my family and close friends are? Is it wherever I am? For now, it seems I have several places I can truly call home including the Bay Area, Bali (Ubud) and London. I may make one of these locations my Headquarters and then live in the others for different parts of the year, but that could also change over time as I refine my definition and the lifestyle I need to lead. I’m coming to terms with the fact that to fulfill my dreams, I’ll have to be away from my former home. Luckily, my friends and family are extremely supportive of my mission and live all over the world. So really, the world is my home.

Every day on this planet is truly a blessing. And from this moment on, I hope to always viscerally remember that each day is a bonus day and never take one single second for granted.

If today were YOUR last day, would you be satisfied with your life? If not, how would you change it?