I crashed a motor bike once. Directly into a parked car. The front headlight of the car was destroyed and a big chuck of the bumper ripped off.
This was Spring break 2004 in the Bahamas. I was 19-years-old.
Luckily I didn’t suffer any injuries. The motorbike was okay too, except for a small plastic piece which fell off next to the car.
I continue driving around the island on motorbike following my buddies.
I was a nervous wreck.
Later, I was driving very slow on a dirt road and I started wobbling and ending up wiping out. Again no injuries, physically at least.
Mentally and emotionally was a different story.
First, I was paranoid about hitting the park car. I went back to the scene of the crime and remove the small piece of plastic. Remove all evidence. Check.
Return bike, look innocent. Check.
Never ride on a motorbike again. Check. (I was scarred. For 12 years I didn’t attempt motor biking again, until I came to Vietnam and it was a much more enjoyable experience)
After getting out scot free without injury and without financial penalty, you’d think I’d feel good, right?
I beat myself up. I felt shaken up and embarrassed in front of my friends for driving shitty. My friends all went back to the hotel room to get ready for the night. I said I would catch up with them in a bit.
So what did I do after the motorbike ride?
I went to the local casino and started drinking beers and playing blackjack.
It was a total irrational and emotional decision. Like when a poker player is flustered and starts playing “on tilt” (wild, without any control of emotions).
My life was on tilt after that dramatic motor bike experience (at least for me, and at least at that time in my life)
I heard the author, James Altucher say once, “The first arrow wounds and the second arrow kills.”
The first arrow is the event, or the circumstance. It’s the shit we can’t control. It’s the motorbike accident (I certainly didn’t have control of my driving skills).
The second arrow is the negative dwelling. It’s the emotional, irrational response. It’s going to the casino by yourself to binge drink and gamble away money at the blackjack table.
We will heal from the first arrow. Always. What kills us is the second arrow.
I still have trouble with the second arrow today. It’s a constant struggle.
Reminders to myself:
1. Work on observing my emotions when something I don’t want happens. Bring the light of awareness to the negative thoughts.
2. Work on not reacting to those emotions through destructive habits, e.g. binge drinking, or binge eating. Instead, try letting that negative emotion vent and release in constructive way. Exercising (one of the best ways to blow off steam), or writing about it (Like I’m doing right now, this is my very own therapy session).
3. Learn to laugh things off when external circumstances don’t go my way.
4. Learn to laugh at myself when I make a fool of myself.
5. Learn from those first arrow mistakes. Minimize them. Prevent them from happening again. Grow from them. Look at them as the best training I could ever receive.
6. When the first arrows do come (and they will, guaranteed). Learn from the second arrow’s interpretations and negative dwellings.
7. Think about ways I can let them go.
8. Think about ways I can forgive myself.