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July 14, 2016

How having a Car Accident Freed me & Helped the Planet Too.

Anubhav Saxena/ Unsplash

It was a lousy hit and run.

There I was, the day before I was scheduled to move from my apartment in L.A, with my totally totalled Prius.

At this point, I had been clearing my apartment of all my possessions: almost every piece of furniture, clothing, knickknack and toiletry that I had accumulated from tween to 20-something.

The more I donated and threw out, the more I started to see what I needed and didn’t need—I was able to hold on to only things with meaning or what I could see my future-self living with. I was starting to learn how to deliberately select my surroundings: objects, experiences, activities and relationships as well.

My packed-up belongings were going to fit in my Prius perfectly. But one handshake with a cop, a hustling tow-truck ride and hours of elevator music from the insurance companies’ direct lines later, I was faced with moving day.

The rest of my belongings were still in the apartment I once called home, now without a place for them to go. I was in the same predicament. I felt completely stripped and stranded, with my once Perfectly Packed Prius Plan trickling down the drainpipe.

Luckily, as a millennial, I had no clue where I was headed next. It’s not that my sense of wanderlust had just kicked in as I was waiting for a unicorn to pop off the computer screen to guide me where to go either though. Plain and simple, I just had too many options.

They were all sweet choices and, although I was grateful for a variety of possibilities, I just couldn’t make a decision. My internal question and answer game left me feeling dissatisfied.

So I stopped. I thought.

I embraced and accepted that I was afraid of making a “wrong” choice. I examined the fear, gathered my years of prior half-to-sleep psych classes, looked the fear straight in the eye and labeled it: “natural reaction.” I began subtracting all of the “what if’s” and excuses I had spun in my head’s web as I sat with the discomfort of the situation.

I decided to go out in nature, the one place always available when I most needed it—that vast, unconditional and accepting space.

As I began tuning into the silence, I felt as if I was becoming a part of the landscape. I listened to the leaves rattle in the wind, getting carried swiftly through the crisp spring air, pausing to observe the presence of a butterfly, lightly gliding through as the sun gently began to peek out, cascading warmth down onto my face.

Like the butterfly, some questions floated through my mind:

“What am I really seeking and wanting more of with this one precious life of mine?”

“Out of the many routes I could take, is there one that’s tugging at me a little stronger?”

“What path am I the most curious to learn more about?”

As a start, I found this much to be true: Getting rid of my hybrid allowed me to move closer to a more sustainable, eco-friendly lifestyle.

The truth is, I completely took owning a car for granted for the past eight years. I could always go wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted, many times with my mind on autopilot through the drive. But having a car was, and is, a luxury. Now, I am grateful to have the (short) opportunity to see what my life is like without it.

Where I’m able to get Vitamin D and use the oldest form of human locomotive. Where I can take the time to slow down and contemplate. Where I have a choice to be intentional. Where I toy with the theory that sitting is the new smoking. Where I accept what was and what is, celebrating the contrast of the two.

Most importantly, I’m allowing for my perception of time, my feet and my mind, to just be in the moment.

The experience of walking everywhere for everything has also reminded me why I am passionate about wanting to live more sustainably in the first place.

Just for a moment, can you too breathe in the possibility of being free from a car—free from insurance?

Okay, I understand that there’s nothing magical, logical or realistic about not having a car if you are anything like me: living in a city two decades behind on public transportation, where the closest thing to bike lanes are the notoriously busted sidewalks.

Maybe, however, aside from our cars, there is quite possibly something else we can let go of—just for a moment. Something for us to be present with, to be free from, mindful of—just for a second, right now.

We’ve all experienced things like this before: Consciously deciding to return to the yoga mat; to go out of our way for a loved one; to not watch another four hours of Saturday morning cartoons; or fill the cereal bowl for the third time because there’s still miraculously leftover almond milk in the bowl we just can’t seem to get rid of.

This (is) one of those moments where we have an opportunity to create more meaning through mindfulness, and stripping ourselves of all our possessions at once is certainly not the only way.

I can say that not having a vehicle, a steady paycheck, or a potential home is all still figure-out-able. Even if it means being completely terrified that I don’t have it all figured out.

But this journey is my only guarantee. It’s a moment by moment opportunity for me to choose clarity and intention over fear, and to move closer to a simpler, more sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle.

This is my real move. My seemingly random and disastrous experience with a beat-up Prius a day before moving redirected me back to the connection to nature which is my, our, birthright.

So tell me, what’s moving you today?

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Author: Jordyn Moullette

Image: Anubhav Saxena/ Unsplash

Editors: Khara-Jade Warren; Catherine Monkman

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Jordyn Moullette