The Illusion of the Open Road
What bumps have there been in your road?
Planning for the ups and downs of our future can only be somewhat effective. Maybe we are fortunate and our course is smooth, but, in the end, a clear open road is unlikely. And then there is the matter of our perceptions and expectations about our lives. We may suddenly be forced to change them.
One evening, years ago, I left the office late. We had been having elevator problems in our highrise building and the wait for an elevator was often long. This evening one came immediately. I didn’t know I was then in jeopardy.
A Life Changing Event
On the road home I was trailing a slow moving pickup. We neared a sharp curve and an SUV came around it at high speed, across the middle line. He hit the pickup and it literally flew off the road. I was next and was flown to Baltimore’s Shock Trauma that night.
It seems I have an odd personality. We are supposed to forget trauma. Two mornings later, lying outside an operating room in terrible pain I began to have sepia images of a moving landscape. At first it puzzled me but then the entire accident unfolded.
I saw the SUV ram the pickup which flew off the road. The SUV was heading straight for me. He swerved, went off the road and then back on driving directly into my drivers door. I felt a horrendous thud. Two feet further forward and my injuries would have been considerably less. Two feet back, much less. It was a direct hit. I felt my left leg explode and said to myself “that should do it.” Then my head hit the roof and I was unconscious. The helicopter took me to the hospital where they saved my life—more than once.
The long and short of it was that I remembered every detail of a broken arm, broken ribs, and a totally fragmented leg. When I came to in the car in terrible pain, I drew myself into the right side of my body from which I only slowly emerged over twenty years. That night began six and a half years of multiple surgeries and frequent visits to Shock Trauma. It had not been in my life plan.
The next morning in a fog of pain and medication I tried to make sense of it. In line with some then current pop culture I thought about why I needed to have this happen to me. Growing angry, I dismissed it at once and settled on the crucial fact. I had one job and one job only and it was to crawl out of that pit of hell and back to my wife and four children.
Decades later I have settled on it being a random event and that popular meanderings were unimportant. I lived, returned to my family and fought my way back. What did I learn? Only what I already knew. You can overcome huge obstacles with dedication.
Oh yes. I did learn that car accidents sound different from what was portrayed on the radio when I was a child. A screech of tires is not necessarily followed by shattering glass. The most memorable sound was of a deep thud.
What life changing decisions have you had to make?