Anything Can (and Most Things Will) Change

I looked out the window this morning and the skyline hit me with a pleasant turbulence, snapping me out of a fog. I remembered to live and breathe and run and eat and sleep in moment after precious moment.

Change Takes Time

“Focus on living this moment” is something my sister-in-law shared with me eons ago. I was younger and going through a rough patch, emotionally incapable of understanding what it meant, really.

I eventually grasped the logic as time passed and I grew, and I focused on it daily, and then weekly until I became bored with it and slacked. But that all changed while on a recent vacation.

I rarely went on vacation back in the day. I didn’t appreciate rest and almost never thought about the finite future. And when I did travel I’d return and it’d feel like I’d only blinked, as if the break never happened. Recently though, while in Mexico with my girlfriend I would tell myself “remember this scene,” or “enjoy this moment,” or “don’t forget the way this tastes.”

“Look at that sunset.”

Tricia and I returned from vacation last Wednesday.

Change Happens Quickly

My uncle’s home burned to the ground last Thursday while he was out of the country.

Everything except the garage and his cars turned to ash. If the fire happened a week earlier or later, he and his dog would’ve been home and likely(?) wouldn’t have made it out. Fortunately nobody was home or hurt, and no other homes suffered any damage beyond some charring to patio furniture and grass.

To lose all things accumulated over the course of a well-lived 72 years? Devastating.

The Silver Lining

His best friend moved next door a bit over a year ago which means a strong support system is within arms reach. He had a place to stay after returning home a week ahead of schedule (after hearing the news from the other side of the world).

All part of life’s bigger plan?

I knew my uncle would be on his own when he returned; his best friend and his wife were in PA for a family event, so I made sure to be there ahead of his arrival in case he needed anything (support, clothes, food, etc.).

I waited, and when he arrived he headed next door to walk through the ashen memories on his own. I waited.

We ran a few errands, returned, had a scotch and a pizza and slept. The next morning I took him to breakfast.

Change Happens … Often

After breakfast we took his car for a wash. All things considered, it looked pretty good after a shower! Only a few dings here and there from the debris and soot that had blown onto its roof and hood.

Incredibly, and without the element of surprise, things changed yet again.

As we drove away from the car wash my uncle told me that he’d bumped into an old friend – news to me as I had waited outside during the entire exchange. This friend also had a recent traumatic experience to share. A mutual acquaintance of theirs suffered both broken hips and crushed legs after a car crashed into his while idling at a stoplight. The speeding car ran a red light and the intersection and crashed into another which created and introduced a tornado of steel to the front end of the acquaintance’s car. The force of the crash was so powerful that the steering wheel and car crushed him from the waist down, putting him in the hospital for four months, where he is today. Whether this acquaintance will walk again or not is up for grabs.


As he told the story, I could tell he (and I knew I) had really been reminded to appreciate the value of the moment. Life can and will change, without notice. It’ll happen overnight or over coffee or in a split second. Sometimes it’ll kick you in the teeth, and sometimes it’ll wash all of your worries away. It will change. Be ready for it. Have a backup plan. Move ahead. Keep moving forward; the past is a reminder of lessons learned.

Perspective. Our happiness, sadness, the good, the bad — whatever. It’s about a lot of things, but it’s very much about perspective. Everything can change in a minute.

It was a good feeling this morning, seeing the sky look that way.


Kevin Joseph is a Chicago-based photographer and writer with a focus on urban lifestyle and design. For rates or prints, please email | @ke_vin_joseph

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