Why You Should Be Thankful For Roadkill


Each time I pass by a dead animal on the road I feel this gut-wrenching sadness and disappointment inside. What’s interesting, I’ve noticed, is the intensity of this feeling sometimes depends on the animal, it’s size, and even my current emotional state.

It’s common to see squirrels, birds, skunks, raccoons. The other day, though, I passed a huge hawk of some sort, just lying there in the middle of the road. I felt a deep sadness, and also an overwhelming sense of guilt. No, the rest of this story is not gruesomely dark, but rather an intimate call for action.

I have just — and not for the first time — quit my job(s) and bought a one way ticket to Asia. This is exhilarating for many obvious reasons, but also super (shit your pants) kind of scary. For the very first time I have absolutely no idea how I will make money or what it will be like to survive long term away from loved ones, and I actually feel scared. On other trips I have taken I have had at least some slight sense of where I was going with my decision to leave and wander the world. This time, much less of a clue.

So as I’m driving to a friend’s house to say goodbye, I pass this hawk on the road, this large, beautiful, free spirited creature whose journey has ended. Tears immediately welled up in my eyes. I felt saddened for the hawk as he no longer was able to follow his dreams, whatever they were.

Here I am feeling guilty, selfish and scared about my decision to again follow an unknown “unstable” path, and then seeing the hawk reminds me it only takes ONE second for your life to completely change. There is no amount of control or certainly that can determine exactly how your life will go. In that one second, everything you thought your life was can instantly change.

I feel such a profound sense of gratitude for that animal’s life; for as I witnessed the end of his, the next part of mine was just beginning. The tears that filled my eyes were of both sadness and joy, and brought me just a little bit more understanding.

I have now been on the road for only 11 days. To my surprise, they have been some of the most emotional days I’ve encountered in the last several months. I’ve spent most of my time with my siblings and family — saying goodbye — and with my partner locked inside of a car for what has at moments seemed like eternity. Needless to say a range of emotions have swept over me, but what has brought me back to the ground was all of the roadkill I have encountered.

Each time I have passed roadkill, I’ve smiled a little bit inside. Every moment of sadness, guilt, anger, doubt, shame, or un uncertainty culminates at the moment I see that animal, lifeless. What I should be feeling is nothing less than thankful for the position I am in and the opportunity I have.

I appreciate the reminder to be thankful; most importantly to try to feel less apologetic for the path I have chosen, and to bring myself back to the present moment – as that is all we can ever really count on.

I hope the next time you pass roadkill, you too are reminded that at any moment things can change. Sure, we hear this all of the time, but when you really think about it, it’s scary – any moment. 

What are you wanting or waiting to do? Is there someone you haven’t connected with in a while? Something that’s been beating you up that you’re avoiding confronting? Something you’re chasing or holding back from? What are the things you would do if you knew your any moment was coming soon?

If you choose not to answer or act on any of the above, that’s okay, but know that you will never know what you don’t know.


Oh, and here’s some free yoga 🙂

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