Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo Jump

By Shae Hadden | Bio

There’s a place near Fort McLeod in Alberta that goes by this odd name…the Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo Jump world heritage site
…where the indigenous peoples used to lead the buffalo to jump off a
cliff. A place where there’s a very finite line between life and
death…and where life comes from death. You see, for thousands of years,
the native people would use this natural geographical formation to
‘harvest’ these wild animals and feed their tribes each winter.

remembering this place today because I’ve been reminded—not so subtly
by being in a car accident—that life is the dash between birth and
death. The instant I knew my car was spinning out of control yesterday
morning, the only thought going through my head was “I surrender to
you, God, for I am not in control”. In that moment, I felt like the
buffalo must have felt—as if this was the last spurt in that great
dash. As if I was surrounded by a vast emptiness of space, flying
through the air, without a body and without a connection to the earth.
Fortunately, I didn’t smash my head on the rocks at the bottom of the
‘cliff’, no one else was involved or hurt, and I was able to walk away
from the car. But I think an ‘old me’—an old way of looking at
life—died today.

After I had been through conversations with
the ambulance attendants, paramedics, firemen, police, tow truck
driver, doctor, pharmacist, insurance company representatives and
friends, I was able to reflect on what had happened. I am still in
shock and starting to feel very sore, but it has been a good wakeup

I’m realizing that I’ve been grateful for the many
wonderful people and circumstances of my life…but I’ve forgotten to be
grateful for life itself. Yes, life is fired at us point blank—and
sometimes I would rather like to fire back what I get. If anything is
impossible, that is one thing that is.

Shit happens. Things
don’t always work out the way we intend them to. And then we get caught
up in our story about our life…replaying how we feel about such and
such and so and so and doing everything we can to change what has
happened or someone else. In doing so, we forget about the simple joy
of being alive.

I admit I’ve been running towards the
cliff—avoiding looking at the thin line separating life and death and
unaware that I could be joyful for everything, as well as grateful.

accident has created an opening for me. I speak my gratitude for the
accident and for my surviving it at every opportunity. And I truly know
that, no matter what happens, being alive is the ultimate blessing.