My Sunrise Can Beat Up Yours (2003)
It's funny how you take things for granted until an experience allows you see the world with new eyes.
Last week, I was commuting to work -- driving the same stretch of road just as I have for over twenty years. My morning drive is about thirty minutes. I use to the time to collect my thoughts in preparation for classes -- or I listen to CDs at high volume (since I'm nearly deaf in one ear). Over the years, the drive has become perfunctory -- an in-the-zone action performed sleepily on autopilot.
Last week, while rounding a curve on the Interstate, my left rear tire blew out. I was not far from a river where large bluffs had been tunneled out to build the road and leave a craggy rock wall on one side. My car spun around several times and then shot into a ditch running parallel to the rock face. I bounced through the ditch at about 60 miles a hour, trying desperately to steer away from the wall, and running over large rocks and a culvert. My brakes had locked in the skid, and only the blown tire's bare rim digging into wet earth from a recent rain brought my car to a stop.
Everything was quiet afterward -- except for the music still playing: Neil Young's "Time Fades Away."
Several other motorists stopped to see if I was okay. A state trooper showed up within ten minutes. He had called an ambulance. I called my wife on my cell phone. I really wanted to talk with her. One of the other drivers who had seen the accident said to me, "Man, I bet that was a rush."
Oh yeah. Definitely.
The whole event probably took five to ten seconds. The only thing I remember thinking was I'm going to hit that wall.
Considering what happened, my car wasn't banged up too badly. There was some minor body damage from the rocks and culvert, and (I discovered later) considerably more damage to my steering and suspension. The tires were shot, too.
But I was fine -- except for feeling a mild, breathless shock. Later, since then, I've been coping with insomnia and on-and-off anxiety. I rewind and replay the incident, as if visualizing it accurately will somehow make it more understandable.
I hug my wife a little tighter now. I think about my daughter twice as often. I call and write my friends more frequently to hear their voices.
And I've been getting up a little earlier to see each day begin again by looking at the sunrise.
For most people, we often marvel at the beauty of a sunrise...but it is impossible to fathom the magnitude of the universe that surrounds us.
--Richard H. Baker
[Photograph seen at jaundicedeye.com]
And that's why my sunrise can beat up yours. Because I appreciate being able to see mine more than I once did -- just as I appreciate more than before bringing it through my blog as a show and tell to you.