|Photo courtesy of Steve Collis, Melbourne, Australia|
We only got as far as The Mound when the crowds grew too thick to move. Before we realized what was happening, we found ourselves in a crushing mass of people with no way out. Have you ever been on your tippy toes in the ocean, tossed by the waves and trying to keep your head above water? Imagine that, but with people. Bodies crushed against me so tight I couldn’t expand my ribs to breathe. I lifted my face up into the sky, trying to find fresh air as more and more people packed in. I remember staring at the chimney tops and praying. At one point I thought, This is it. I’m going to die in a crowd on New Year’s Eve in Scotland.
It was one of the scariest moments of my life. One minute we were singing “Auld Lang Syne” and being kissed by drunken merrymakers. The next we weren’t sure we would be around to see the sun rise on the new year.
We did make it out, though, thank God. Something shifted and the crowd began to move like a swift current, carrying us along with it to our right. It spit us out right in front of a police barricade, where a number of injured people sat behind scaffolding. With room to move, the crowds dispersed. My husband and I hugged each other and cried, happy to be alive.
I found out later that that year's Hogmanay holds the Guinness World Record for being the world's largest New Year party, with 400,000 people in attendance. (I also found out 600 people were injured. Yikes.)
That night marked a turning point in my life. In high school, my best friend and I had made lists of things to do before we die. After Hogmanay, I found that list and started completing the things on it, because there’s nothing like facing mortality to make you realize life is short and there's no guarantee of tomorrow.
One of the things on that list? Write books.
|My Christmas gift |
My wish for you this holiday season is that you would dust off your own list--or make a new one, if necessary--and use the start of a new year to begin crossing off your own To Do's. You don't need a deadly hug from thousands of drunken merrymakers to help you understand that life is short. Just go for it. What have you got to lose?
Happy Hogmanay to you and yours! Lang may yer lum reek.