As I sped toward catastrophe, completely unable to prevent the collision, I didn’t have any major breakthroughs. I didn’t see my life flash before my eyes. I didn’t meet God. My thoughts were oh shit, oh shit, and oh shit, and it wasn’t until I had pulled off the road into a parking lot that I even took stock of the damage– the fate of the possibly injured other driver and the state of my own crumpled car (which will cost more to repair than it’s even worth).
I didn’t cry and I didn’t tremble. The other driver called the cops, I called my insurance and my dad. And then I got out and leaned against my car and I felt the afternoon. I felt the sun on my face and the asphalt beneath my feet and the tree branches waving in the breeze like they were my own arms. I stared through the hedgerow beside me at the busy street. I didn’t process anything other than the fact that the world was moving, full of sound and energy and soft yellow light.
Can panic and peace coexist? Maybe so.
Then the cop came, and by the grace of God he was one of the nicest men I’ve ever encountered. In a place where I was at fault and feeling unmoored, I was met with a kindness so deep I am certain I didn’t deserve it.
My head still hurts a little and I spent a lot of today resting. It kind of shocks you, to realize that sometimes you just can’t react fast enough to prevent something that was already set in motion. In that moment, I lost everything I could control. I lost every ounce of power over what was about to happen to me. I didn’t even remember to pray until after it happened.
But I am fine. Repeat: I lost any and all control over my life for a few eternal moments, and I am fine.
I don’t know why I was protected that day, when so many other people have lost their lives in almost identical situations. It’s a question I can’t answer. But I do know, now more than ever, that my life does not belong to me. It’s a wild and beautiful vitality born long before me, already spinning into a far distant future I will never see.
An Icelandic artist named Bjork once said that all is full of love. She said that we’ll be taken care of, that it might not come from the sources we would expect, but that we have to trust it all the same.
It’s been my experience that I am pretty damn limited in my ability to see and understand these sources. I know several people who don’t feel able to see or believe in them at all. I don’t think it changes the fact that all is full of love. We will be taken care of.