What is it about me? Sometimes I feel so different. Why can’t we all just admit that this life is pretty amazing! Why can’t we love each other, feel all the joy and bliss this life offers, and forget all the bs? There sure are a bunch of rules. So many people feel so guilty about this and that. We go to church each Sunday to get a weekly cleansing. Why do we think we are dirty? So many beliefs. So many “have to’s.” All of this creates filters through which life is experienced. It makes it hard, and combative, and dehumanizing.
Am I ignorant? Am I blind to the facts of life? Am I too simplistic? Do I belong back in the sixties? Did I take too much ecstasy in my younger days? Have I felt so much pain in this lifetime, that I have come to the point of saying, Enough is Enough! I choose deliriously happy. I don’t need gobs of money. I don’t need travel. I don’t need to be with someone. I am. And that is about as simple and pure as it gets.
During the last couple of years, I have been increasingly aware of how fragile and tender this life that we have truly is. Perhaps as I get older, I realize the party will someday come to an end. Losing a few loved ones to suicide, and a mother in law to illness, points a clearly delineated path to the end. Many of my friends have developed cancer. The clock is ticking. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Perhaps it is the fact that I have experienced such joy, that the end of this life seems all the more pointless and final. And perhaps, just knowing that anything can happen at any time, all entirely out of my control, I more than ever want to grab life by the throat and celebrate all that I have been given.
Today, I received some frightening news. My daughter Paulina, who just turned 15 ½, is now driving. Up until today, this was great news. How exciting for her! When I have visited with her, we drive. She loves to drive, and she is a great driver. I have been training her for the last 3 years. As with all things Paulina does, she does it with excellence.
The difference between life and death.
The news. Paulina was in an automobile accident. She called me, and sounded okay. Shaken, but not hurt. She and her mom were at the auto body shop, making the usual post-accident arrangements, setting up the insurance papers, and getting a rental while the damaged car is in repairs. Looks like they will total the car. Later I heard all the details.
That is what made the difference between my daughter dying today, or just being scared and really shaken up.
1 Fucking Second.
That is how close I came to losing one of my children today. Paulina was driving to her volunteer work. She was driving on a two lane country road, a 55 MPH road, a road with a double yellow line down the center. She had slowed down to make a left hand turn onto the road that would take her to her destination. She had her eyes peeled to make sure there was no oncoming traffic before making the turn. The road was clear, so with her blinker on, she began to make the turn. And BOOM. Some jerk decided to cross over the yellow line, and try to pass Paulina on the left. In all my driving, I don’t think I have ever seen anyone do something so stupid.
His car, a big SUV, destroyed the front left wheel of Paulina’s car. Paulina told me that upon impact, she just burst out in a panic, saying she was sorry for what happened to her Mom’s car. As she said, she “freaked out!” and started crying and screaming and curled up into a ball. When she told me of her experience, all I could think about was what would have happened if the jerk had been 1 second later, or Paulina had been 1 second faster. He would have rammed into Paulina’s door at 55 MPH. It would have been a classic T-Bone. Paulina would not have had a chance to freak out. She would not be with us any longer. The good news is she is only traumatized. The good news is she is alive!
Throughout my life, I have been asked from time to time to be patient, and to sit on the sidelines and wait for a situation to clear up. I am a “make it happen” kind of guy. It is tough when I am asked to let nature take its course. But while I have been on the sidelines, I often wonder, what if? What if tomorrow never comes. What if? What if all amazing plans aren’t given a chance to manifest? What if the sweetest joys are never experienced? What if Paulina never gets to college, never marries, never has children, never travels the world, and never gets to do any of the things I have dreamed for her. What if? What ever happened to Carpe Diem (seize the day!)? It makes me wonder. I am going to watch Dead Poet’s Society again!
In the end, I take a deep breath and I trust. I trust my daughter has a bubble of white light always protecting her. I trust that when the universe throws something magnificent in my life, and I must wait for a while, there is a plan. Since there isn’t really any control, I must trust. Else I feel I would go a bit mad. Life is so beautiful, and my daughter is alive and well. My life has magic in it, and such a passionate and fulfilling future awaits. And if I am honest with myself, my life is quite off the charts amazing just as it is. Still, this accident reminds me of how fragile it all is. This accident also points out how special and fulfilling certain relationship are, such as between a father and his children, and between a man and a woman. Some things in life deserve more focus and attention. In the long run, they are more rewarding.
I will continue to feel the thin (and getting thinner) veil between this world and the other, and cherish the sublime connections I have. I will trust all is happening exactly as it will. And when something as jolting as this bizarre accident raps hard on my heart, I will take all of that pent up love, hold it dear, and share it whenever I feel the calling. This Wednesday evening, I am going to one of Paulina’s music recitals with her brother and mother. I trust that the flute playing will sound particularly wonderful on that night.
That is how close I was from another deathly silence.