So Wednesday was Every 48 at my university. This is the second annual, and each spring we do a day long event to raise awareness about the effects of impaired driving. Pretty much, about every 48 minutes in the US someone is lost in a drunk driving accident. In that spirit, someone on campus symbolically “passed away” every half hour for 12 hours. That means that every 30 minutes, another student put on all black and a little sign with an explanation around his or her neck, and could no longer participate in the life thing. I “died” at 7 am today. So for 12 hours, I couldn’t talk to people, I couldn’t text, or use social media, or email, or use sign language, or point and nod and act things out to try to communicate. I was just there, a place holder to act as a reminder of who could be lost because of drunk driving.
And it doesn’t matter if you *think* you’re just buzzed, because you could still be impaired enough to lose control for a second. And it doesn’t matter if you didn’t drink at all, because a drunk driver could hit you. Everyone is at risk of becoming another statistic in a drunk driving accident, and the only remedy is to raise awareness and make sure everyone knows that impaired driving is dangerous, drunk driving is dangerous, buzzed driving is dangerous, and even distracted driving is dangerous.
Also, it’s really weird to go a day without talking. Even weirder to go a day without texting. And yes, I checked my email and my Facebook, but I couldn’t reply, I could’t hit “like”. I couldn’t communicate. And let me tell you, it’s really weird to be trapped in your head while you’re surrounded by people. Here are some of my thoughts that I jotted down throughout the day, so I could share some of the experience afterward:
- (2 hours in) I was surprised by how gloomy it gets when people do nice things today. I feel so weighted down, so heavy. When you can’t express gratitude to someone, it’s an awful feeling. But then again think of how many times we choose not to tell something thank you, or it’ll be okay, or that we’re thinking of them. Think of all the times we don’t tell someone what they mean to us. And then when you can’t, it’s like you can’t think about doing anything else.
- I had to ignore someone asking me a question on homework, multiple someone’s. I couldn’t tell my friend to stop freaking out, because internship grades come out around the time of housing selection each year. I couldn’t tell someone thank you for printing my assignment out for me, or for giving me a hug. I couldn’t tell someone who was having a miserable day that it’d be okay, I couldn’t tell her not to worry about her phone, and I couldn’t try to talk to distract her.
- You know how hard it is when you know something that you can’t tell someone? What about when you know something, but you can’t even tell someone that you know it…
- I keep having conversations with people in my head. Like I imagine me saying what I want to say and I’m just making up all their responses because it’s getting lonely in here
- I feel invisible. The class keeps going around me and everyone keeps talking, sometimes speaking for me, sometimes through me. I think I actually did become a ghost.
- I feel like I keep responding, to everything and everyone. But I feel like I’m just invisible or in a make-believe world, because no one knows what I’m saying, so even though I’m talking to them, they can’t hear me, they don’t know, and they don’t respond.
Well, the good news is that I’m able to talk again! The weird part is that I feel more comfortable with the silence now, like a residual from my day of “vocal rest:. I mean, I’ve always talked a lot and I continue to talk a lot, starting the second I was allowed to speak again. I hope it touched someone. I know it touched me. I hope it will make someone think twice.
I know it’s small, but I’m choosing to believe that this is one step that will change someone’s world.