Sometimes it takes a near death experiences to figure out what's really important to you. For example, a few weeks ago I was driving to work when I came across some train tracks. Now, I pass these train tracks every day, and lately, the red, blinking warning lights have been going off at random, blinking when the train is stopped or when there is no train at all. Just a couple of days before I'd sat at those lights for a full ten minutes, waiting for a train that never came.
So, on this particular morning, when I saw the lights flashing and the other drivers gliding over the tracks as though nothing were happening, I just did a quick cautionary pause before continuing. Now, this was a good idea. One can never be too careful, despite what everyone else is doing. However, it would have worked a lot better if I'd actually looked for the train, as opposed to taking a quick glance and driving on. As I crossed the tracks, I looked over, and there was the train lumbering towards me. I hit the gas and went over the tracks in record time, which was unnecessary, as it was moving at the speed of snail. I was several blocks away before it got to the place I'd crossed, but still, I couldn't help but picture the headlines if I'd died. I bet they'd have thought I tried to race the train, I realized. They would say I was an impatient idiot who thought she could beat the train, who couldn't bear to wait. How unfair! I wasn't impatient! I was just unobservant!
The whole way to work I berated myself for not paying more attention, angry that I'd almost wound up with an untrue euology. "Oh, if only she'd been a little more patient! Why did she think she could beat the train?" Ugh. Perish the thought. And that's when it hit me. I wasn't worried about nearly being hit by a train. I was worried that if I was, they wouldn't know why. I was more concerned with my reputation than my own life. Clearly, my priorities are a little messed up. Although on the bright side, now I always look both ways before crossing the train tracks. So there's that.