OUR LIVES are full of little moments. All the pieces come together to make our life story. Sometimes it’s easy to get tied up with looking at the at the big picture, the long-term goal, the end result, and we forget to enjoy the road getting there.
Here are some of my “little moments” that led me to where I am today.
It was a memorable year for me. I’d graduated high school at the top of my class. I was elected Utah FFA state president. I finished my high school rodeo career by making the National High School Finals in pole bending. I earned the National Little Britches Rodeo Association World All-Around Champion title. My world was perfect.
My dad was coaching a baseball team in Hawaii, and in December he asked if I’d like to spend some time there before he came home for Christmas. I flew out the week before Christmas to the beautiful island of Maui.
We walked along the beach every morning. We talked about my accomplishments, my upcoming plans, and where I saw myself in the future. I’ve always been the planning type, knowing where I'll be in one year, five years, 10 years. I felt the world was my stage and I could be whomever I wanted.
One morning, I noticed our footprints in the sand. I looked behind me, saw where we’d been; I looked in front to see the blank path ahead of us. I was so fascinated by this that I took a picture of the prints my feet had left. A few days later, we returned home.
Little Moments; Big Changes
Fast-forward two weeks to Logan, Utah. The FFA officer team met to discuss plans for our state convention. I wrote my farewell speech on overcoming obstacles. I wanted to share with FFA members that they could overcome any obstacle.
I soon learned that to be true.
On January 10, 2010, I left Logan at 4:30 in the morning to drive to Denver, Colorado. I’d scored a job working at the National Western Stock Show. I was excited to take in two weeks of work, play, and adventure.
Rawlins, Wyoming, was to be my last stop before Denver. I jumped in my truck to drive the final leg with my stomach hurting; I left my seat belt off for a minute. I checked my map, overcorrected, rolled my truck, was ejected, and broke my back. In an instant my planned life changed. But the little moments leading up to it remained.
Ten days later, I began my long road
to healing. Spinal-cord injuries take time to heal. You can’t will your nerves to connect and fire. You can’t try harder to move your legs. You have to do the best you can with what you have.
In the hospital, I scrolled through photos on my phone. I came across my footprint in the sand. That small moment, insignificant at the time, was now a moment that’s shaped my life.
March 12, 2010, two months after my accident, I gave my retiring address at the State FFA Convention. My speech on overcoming obstacles had become my daily life. I not only could tell those members you are tougher than you think, but I could also show them. I told them life will throw challenges you don’t expect, and you’re the only one to decide what you’re capable of. It was now the story of my life.
Think about my footprints in the sand. You can see the past—where you’ve been, what’s happened. But you also must look at the blank sand ahead of you, ready for you to write the next page of your story. You can’t change the past, but you can decide what little moment comes next.
In my case, I’ve looked back at little moments during my life on legs and have been sad. But I’m also grateful for the experiences I was given before and after January 10. They all led me to where I am today.
I choose to look ahead while also treasuring the journey, remembering the moments that shaped me into who I am, and I encourage you to, also. Recognize that today can be that beach, just waiting for your next move. It might be on your feet, it might be on wheels, or it might even be on a horse.
Amberley Snyder, Elkridge, Utah, is a barrel racer and inspirational speaker who’s fought her way back from tragedy. She inspires riders across the country by telling her triumphant story of returning to the saddle after a tragic truck accident that left her with no feeling below her waist. Just 18 months after her wreck, she was back in the saddle. She’s made the ultimate comeback to compete in rodeos across the western United States and shares her journey and horse life on social media and at amberleysnyder.org.
Little moments in Amberley’s life led her to opportunities, such as coaching riders.