Friday, January 23, 2009
Not so long ago I was traveling backwards in Annie’s truck on I-87 at 60 miles per hour. The picture above is of the truck before. I had been visiting my sister, her husband and their five adopted children up in Plattsburg. My oldest sister and her three youngest children were there as well. They will be there for a year to help out. The children are growing up so well. I could not be prouder of them or their parental grownups of which there are many.
We were all together for Thanksgiving including Annie and my third sister Michelle and her two kids. Everyone was standing around the piano singing with a child in their arms. Ok that doesn’t quite explain it. The room was filled with love and dancing and the kind of singing that requires no inhibition. It was unreal even by my standards. If you would like to see pictures of the weekend click here.
I’ll return to the backwards driving. It was in the wee hours of the morning. I was alone. It had been getting warmer all day. I was going south. I was going through the mountains. It was the gain in elevation that got me. The road was wet one moment and the next moment my back tires started drifting out in front of me. I corrected, and then the tires were drifting out in the opposite direction. I corrected again and again, oscillating wider and wider. Pretty soon I was bouncing between the guardrails like a ping pong ball. It was at this point, flying backwards on the highway I thought it might be over.
This is an exceptional place I think for anyone to be in. I did not see my life flash before my eyes. All I thought was, “Is this it? Have I learned enough?”
This response was surprising for me in a profound way. It implied a lot regarding how I understand my relationship with this world and my life.
After the truck stopped moving my mind was flooded with all of the things I was grateful for. I was in shock, felt nauseous and had trouble standing. I was standing near the truck looking over the wreck when the first car came by. The car stopped and I was invited in out of the cold and was kept at a safe distance from the truck until the police arrived. I assume I would have survived without this help but it is possible I could have died from shock. Even sitting in a warm car I was having a really hard time. I am enormously grateful for the kindness and patience of my fellow travelers.
The accident was a good lesson. I now know more about black ice. The importance of that knowledge was impressed upon me with out any permanent damage. I also discovered that I am not so much the intellectual cynical unbeliever I thought I was. It’s good to know what I’m working with.
Posted by John Ellsworth at 11:03 AM