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While I was in Jersey training with Elliott, I was a little out of the loop with news. Yet, while out exploring the city one day, I walked into a lounge and was able to catch news of a story that has continued to stick with me.

It was a story about a woman who was killed while pumping gas. No, not an explosion or a fire, but another driver (who was under the influence of drugs) ploughed into the victim’s car, pinned her to the gas pump and she suffered life ending injuries. Such a sad, sad story.

The perpetrator, of course, was not hurt. And the car driven by the intoxicated driver was not her own, but rather her estranged (and out of town) long term girlfriend. For whatever reason, the news decided to interview the owner of the car. Not that I really have a big problem with that, mainly because the woman was sensible.

And by sensible I mean she felt terrible. She knew her ex had a drug problem and was a danger to herself and others. She did not give permission for the ex to use the car and, like I said, she wasn’t even in town when the crime happened.

She just kept saying over and over, “I’m so, so sorry.”

I’m no psychologist of any kind, but this sure sounds like survivor’s guilt. While the car’s owner didn’t play a part in the crime, she still felt the weight of being connected with the death of an innocent person. I would, too. Wouldn’t you?

When I’m confused about the world, I try to remember that the world is chaotic. No matter how hard we try, no matter how committed we are to a plan, crazy shit just happens. It happened to me. I’m sure you, too, have had a monkey wrench thrown into your world a time or two. When chaos rears it’s head, I return to my principal’s advice as a teenager: “Change the things you can and don’t worry about the rest…there’s nothing you can do about those things anyway, just change the things you can.”

In simplified terms, we can’t change what happens to us, only the response we give. Much like the survivor who felt guilty, even she said she couldn’t do anything about it, but still felt normal human emotion to try to change something that simply cannot be changed. In those kinds of times, I hope you’ll heed that guidance, too: you can’t change everything, but you can always control your response to the things that can’t be changed.

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  • Treena Dockery

    Such a powerful reminder Marcus, thank you!

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