On November 8, 2014 at 11:45 AM, I had a near-fatal motorcycle crash. I spent four months in the hospital followed by 15 months in (mostly) and out of a wheelchair. I had 13 surgeries in 18 months. I’ve taught myself to walk again. I’ve gone through bankruptcy, as the only hospital that was capable of saving my life was not in network with my insurance company.

My crash was a result of a hit-and-run driver, who was never identified. I distinctly recall, five days after the crash, having a conversation with myself about what this all meant. I realized this event had awesome power. It could destroy my life and leave me bitter. But I also saw this it had the potential to show me how to be truly happy.

I made a conscious choice that I would choose to take the path to happiness. I immediately realized that the only way I could ever get there was to forgive. In that moment, I truly forgave the people that caused this crash. I forgave the driver of the white mini van that cut me off. I forgave myself. I didn’t blame myself, but I do know there were things I could have done differently that might have changed the outcome.

All of this has given me incredible perspective. It gave me the opportunity to stop and examine every aspect of my life. I was able to ask about everything, “Is this the way I want it to be in the future?” If the answer was no, then I thought about what I wanted that aspect of my life to look like, and I changed my priorities.

I believe now that the crash was a gift. I now live a life where the simple act of walking can, and does, bring me immense gratitude and joy. I live a life without intense stress or worry. I sometimes do get stressed, but the intensity and duration of an incident is orders of magnitude less than they were before the crash. I’m currently blogging and writing a book about my experiences.