Everything Can Change In An Instant

We were four women laughing and talking together; having a great time in each others company.  We were driving back from an adventure we’d just shared and everyone was in a great mood.  Tracy was driving. Cathy sat beside her up front, Jacquie sat behind Tracy and I was behind Cathy.  I had a perfect view of Tracy and the road beside and ahead of her.  It was around 8:30 at night and the summer sky was still bright.  We were doing about 80km along a straight country highway.  There were cars ahead of us and behind us and quite a few going the opposite direction.  A pretty typical summer Sunday evening drive.    

Cathy was saying something and Tracy turned her head to look at her for an instant.  She took her eyes off the road for an instant.  It was only an instant. 

Meanwhile the drunken driver of a black Pontiac Sunfire was having a hard time keeping his car on his own side of the road.  I’ve imagined he may have been trying to focus by closing one eye.  He probably thought he was doing pretty well considering how much he’d had to drink. Or maybe he thought everyone else kept driving into his lane instead of the other way around.  Who knows what was going on in his mind?  We will never know for sure.

I gasped as I saw the black Sunfire coming straight at Tracy. Time seemed to slow down and move in chunks.  Tracy. Black car. Tracy. Black cars headlight. Tracy.

I knew that the impact would be hard.  I knew that Tracy’s legs would be crushed and that the metal would crumple in on top of her.  I knew that the jeep we were in would spin from the impact and consequently roll along the highway.  There was a very good chance our vehicle would careen itself into a few more cars before coming to a stop.   

The jeep held four mothers of twelve children all together.  They ranged in ages from infant in diapers to adult children.  All would be devastated; all would be changed forever in an instant. 

Tracy turned her attention back to the road and an instant later she saw the black car coming straight for her.  She had no time to think.  Her instincts took over and she yanked the wheel of her jeep hard to the right and then hard back to the left.  We missed impacting with the black Sunfire by mere centimetres.  In that one instant all our lives could have been changed forever.  Instead, thanks to Tracy’s quick reaction, we were all safe.  Shaken up for sure, but unscathed. 

I’m so grateful that nothing happened that night.  I’m writing this now as a sort of therapy.  The instant that could have changed everything for the four of us has been haunting me all week.  I needed to get it written down so that I can let it go.  I think what has been haunting me the most about that night was just how quickly everything can change.  One minute you’re laughing and the next…

I guess it is another reminder to enjoy each and every moment.  Life is so precious.  Remember one of the six word memoirs ~ “It all changed in an instant.”  Thank you guardian angels or powers that be from saving us from that particular six word memoir.

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Six Word Memoirs

I’ve always imagined that I would write a memoir of my life one day.  As soon as it got really interesting.  I’m not there yet.  The other thing that holds me back is, well, hard work.  Writing your life story would be a lot of work (at my age).  It seems to me that it would be really hard to look back and re-examine ones life and re-hash some of those memories that weren’t always that pleasant the first time round.  Plus I haven’t got a great memory so there is the fear that my memoir would come out very James Frey-ish.

But then I found the solution!  I discovered SMITH Magazine.  An online blog-a-zine.  SMITH was founded by Larry Smith and Tim Barkow in 2006.

“When we launched SMITH Magazine on January 6, 2006, (National Smith Day, which we didn’t invent, but latched on to) the idea was to create a new kind of web magazine. The content would be largely user-generated, then curated by people who edit things for a living. It would be a bold new blend of the professional and the amateur, fueled by our populist, participatory mission: Everyone Has A Story.”

They decided to try giving life to Hemingway’s legendary six-word novel (For sale: baby shoes, never worn”)

“We combined the classic storytelling challenge with our passion for nonfiction confessionals and dubbed it “Six-Word Memoirs.” Then we called up some guys we met at a tech conference about this new thing called Twitter and asked if they wanted to partner up to send one daily short life story to anyone who followed our @smithmag feed.

Four years and more than 200,000 Six-Word Memoirs later, we continue to be blown away by what people are capable of saying in just six words, the ways that others have adapted the form, and — not to get all Chicken Soup-y here — the unexpected little gems and gifts that launching this project has brought into our lives.”

All of this has led to a best-selling book series, including Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure, Six-Word Memoirs on Love & Heartbreak, Six-Word Memoirs by Teens Famous & Obscure., and It All Changed in an Instant: More Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure..

I have the latest book “It All Changed in an Instant” and I’m really enjoying it. Some of the six word memoirs are funny, some are clever and some are sad.  Here’s the thing though, once you start reading these you begin to think in six word stories.  Here are a few that I came up with for my own life:

“Dinner’s ready. He’s still not home.”

“Life now revolves around my computer.”

“Instinctively always known; thoughts become things.”

“Kids grow up and leave. Ouch!”

“Secrets revealed when I started blogging.”

“Typing is easier than writing now.”

I could go on and on, but I’d really like to hear some from you! Share some of your six word stories.  “Challenge yourself. It’s really quite fun!” (see what I mean…can’t stop!)

Everyone has a story. Can you tell yours in six words?

Here’s some more inspiration to get you started:

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