Thursday, December 15, 2005

My Sunrise Can Beat Up Yours

My Sunrise Can Beat Up Yours

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.

The hour before the heavenly-harnessed team /  Begins his golden progress in the east. -- Shakespeare

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.

5 comments:

Tim said...

Glad to hear you're okay, Terry. I was in a car accident once and had two close calls just recently.

Those were all incidents with bad drivers (on city streets not highways) almost slamming into me (and my family) at high speed. But a tire blowing out is something else. You wouldn't even see something like that coming.

I hope things settle down and you're able to get some sleep.

Neil Shakespeare said...

oh yeah. i've had that happen too. it was on a flat stretch of freeway, however and ended up spinning harmlessly - well, relatively - into the ditch. nothing so dangerous as spinning out of control toward a rock wall. does tend to put perspective on things.

thelily said...

Sweet Jesus. I'm glad you're still here and whole. And I think I know that re-living the moment/insomnia business, aside from jerking you out of auto-pilot, is part of a reordering that has to happen. A couple of frames are out of sequence in your cosmic picture album and they won't be set right until you write the moment EXACTLY AS YOU THINK IT SHOULD BE WRITTEN. It has to be reordered and named.

Maybe. And maybe it's about the few seconds after when the dust was still settling instead.

Regardless, I'm glad you're unharmed. "In a minute there is time"...whew.
-M

idyllopus said...

The mind is funny. I've had several near catastrophic events and each time the brain has gone minimal, whether or not I'm in a position to attempt to avert. "Damn, that truck is going to hit me." "Damn that plane is going to hit us."

That was one hell of a ride you had. Glad you're all right.

cruelanimal said...

I really appreciate all of your comments. Thanks.

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