Saturday, August 21, 2010

An Accident's Hidden Gift

It's another Friday morning. Just moments ago the sky was still dark at 5:45 am, a reminder of the impending season we call "Fall." I-25 is full of a trail of trucks, red lights and vans all in a rush to get to somewhere they're supposed to be. If you glance out your left window you can see the beginnings of the sunrise-a bluish gray sky that suddenly turns into a pinkish orange, ending in a purple reflection of the Rocky Mountains on the right. The music that's playing toggles between the sounds of a local pop/rock station and a Joss Stone cd. The Starbucks light mocha frappuccino downed fifteen minutes earlier is beginning to take some effect as your eyes finally become fully alert.        

There's nothing to the left and nothing to the right but open fields and sprinkles of could-be neighborhoods. Even though you drive this road almost every day, you're not quite sure where you're at. Perhaps it's before the exit for Mead, perhaps Highway 66 or 119. Who can really tell when you've never really recovered from last weekend's term project writing marathon? What you do see is a line of sudden red lights-the traffic is coming to standstill, as if this were downtown Orlando at 5pm instead of almost still heavy traffic free Colorado. You think it might be because they're still picking up the construction zone signs from last night's shift and re-opening the closed down right lane. A quick glance at the pattern of what little movement there is tells you otherwise. This isn't a simple construction clean-up inconvenience.

You're still not for certain, but you get the feeling someone is hurt. Normally you would get a little road rage in a situation like this, but this morning is different. So what if you're going 15 miles an hour and can't see anything but a piled upped line of cars in front of you. You weren't really in the mood to start working yet anyway. Relax. Breathe. Take a break. But you can't. You get the sudden impression of someone hitting their head against the pavement-hard. Then the ambulance can be seen flashing down on the other side of the highway, crossing over the median, attempting to make its way through the stalled line of traffic. If only Colorado drivers were sophisticated enough to know they should stay put and let the ambulance navigate its way using the side pull-off. But they aren't because they don't know any better. They haven't experienced big city life and some of its eye-opening ramifications.

As you approach the point of impact you see the cars blocking the left lane, the stretcher on the ground, the parked ambulance with its lights still flashing, the State Patrol running across from the right side of the highway and the paramedics urgently performing the tasks of their job. Those impressions get stronger, you feel sick, your breathing becomes rapid and you start crying. You're sure your face looks like you're an actress rehearsing some sort of tragic, emotional script, but your rational mind knows this is just a typical reaction for someone with high sensitivity.

You can barely work your first account because you're fighting back tears and sick feelings. You sincerely hope that whomever that was that they make it. It's all you think about most of the day. When you get home you search online for the news reports to see. There's nothing yet, nothing you can find. Maybe by Saturday there will be something. Maybe.

This isn't the first time you've seen this scene and it won't be the last. Accidents happen. They're a part of life that we think we have to prevent. This one just affected you more strongly for some unknown reason that will eventually reveal itself. Someone's morning didn't quite unravel the way they had planned. Someone's life might be affected for the rest of their existence. Someone might no longer be a visible player on this stage. We can never truly know how many steps we have left to take or what tune we'll find our soul carried away by next.

Accidents-they're just an uncalculated detour into the next phase of our journey we belong in. Prevention is a game better left unplayed in the face of coincidence. As a somewhat eccentric, but astute lady told me a few weeks ago-we all need lessons and growth to become who we are. That doesn't happen unless you're involuntarily pushed beyond the limits that you've confined yourself in.

Accidents-at times they're the only way you get set free from that invisible prison.

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