By Mary Smith
I have some shocking news: I was almost hit by lightning. You see, my family lives on a hill… but not just any hill, it’s a hill on top of a hill. Living at a higher altitude doesn’t just mean that we’re closer to Heaven, it also means that our house is basically a target for lightning strikes. If you can’t live without WiFi, you would never make it at our house because lightning takes the sucker out about every other month. Unfortunately, last month, on the night before Homecoming, lightning almost took me out.
The first mistake that I made that night was cleaning up dinner during a lightning storm. I was doing all of the do-nots: running water, getting close to windows, and transferring metal pans to the table. Lightning was so close to my house that it shook the ground, and yet I carried on with my daily life like it was a perfect September night. Next thing I know, while I am holding a metal pan (definitely a conductor of electricity), lightning strikes my entire house. When I say “my entire house”, I mean everything. Outlets were blown off of the wall, surge protectors were blown into two pieces, smoke alarms started going off, and no one could see anything. Of course, my first reaction was to drop the pan and run, but instead I launched myself into the hallway and threw myself right in the middle of the floor. My mother almost stepped on me several times, which meant that I should have probably found an actual chair to sit in. You never know what crazy things that you will do during a natural disaster.
The second mistake that I made was panicking. The next day was Homecoming-one of the most exciting nights of the fall semester- and there was no way that I could be ready for an event like that without enough sleep. The news that we would be staying in a hotel for the night was almost as frightening as seeing the chunk of concrete that was no longer a part of our porch. How could I, a senior in high school, survive a night in a hotel and manage to be organized for the following day? I had to force myself to pack a bag, including my curling iron (because that is obviously a necessity). After making sure that nothing would burn down the house in our absence, we left to drive through the blinding rain to a hotel.
So how could this lightning strike change my entire life? It not only forced me to be with my family, it forced me to find my own solution to life’s surprises. Nature took me, shook me around a bit, and told me to get back up and dust myself off. In the process, I found that my family are actually pretty cool people. I also learned what most people don’t get the opportunity to learn: life is very fragile. Yes, I was lucky enough to have survived without any electrical currents running through my body, but I was still gambling my own life in attempt to finish a chore that could have been done later. Life is too important and beautiful to text and drive or take a shower during a huge lightning storm. The value of your own life is not expressed to you in a manual on how to live; you have to figure out yourself what you are here for. Some people never get the opportunity to feel like they’re truly alive.
Life isn’t always going to give you lemons. Chances are, when you least expect it, life is going to hand you an orange and say, “Do with this what you will.” Changes are only a natural part of growing up and being alive. When tornadoes, hurricanes, and tsunamis hit cities with no warnings, the surrounding communities do not give up and live in destroyed homes. Digging through rubble and volunteering their time is simply an example of humans picking themselves back up after a crisis. No matter how big or how small the issue is, I learned that one must always rebuild, even if their finished product isn’t as grand as what it was previously.
Lightning changed everything for me. I was blessed that no one in my family was hurt, and I was equally as blessed to absorb the lessons that I did in this situation. Nothing that is a learning experience is going to be easy. You may not have a Playstation anymore, and your entire Internet might be gone, but those things are trivial. What’s important is that you’re alive. Luckily for me, I’m still breathing. In fact, I’m doing more than breathing-I’m taking life to a whole new level, all while keeping in perspective its brevity. To quote a brilliant movie, Braveheart, “Every man dies. Not every man really lives.”