Day After Day, I Keep Waking Up….


I will be on vacation in Colorado and the wilds of Northern Nebraska until the end of the month, so this is my last column until mid-August. 

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“Humans are just a stage in the emergence of amazing complexity in the universe.” Martin Rees

Destiny, And The Big Picture

I’ve become obsessed with contemplating the increasing complexity and interdependency, in Darwinian terms, of societies and biology, and of how well intermingled they are – yet not necessarily parallel.   That’s a big-picture obsession.  To a lesser degree, I obsess on my own increasing complexity – because it’s a story which could have ended long ago.

And as I see myself grow more complex and increasingly interdependent with others, I still don’t know what I am destined to be within the expanse of my life, but I can say with great clarity at this moment, I am destined to be, and that’s a very little-picture statement.

A Letter To A Friend

I don’t wear a helmet when I ride my bike.  I love the wind through my hair when I ride at high speeds – it’s the rush of pure physical freedom.  Last month a concerned friend saw me riding in Fallbrook without a helmet and sent me an email to call me out on it.   She explained that her husband fell off his bike recently and his helmet probably saved his life.  I told my friend, based on that story, that I would begin wearing a helmet immediately – though I truly did not want to.  A couple of days later I bought a helmet, but never put it on.  Who was she, to tell me how to live my life…?

Below is a letter I sent to my friend this morning:

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Hi Danielle –

A while back I pledged to you I would begin wearing a bike helmet ASAP, and that I would prove it to you by sending you a picture of the helmet. And then, my life went very dark for a while.  “Fuck-it” was my attitude.  Things weren’t going well for me at all, and seemed to get worse every day.  One thing I could depend on each day though, was the wind through my hair as I rode to and from work – as exhilarating to me as any sensation I have known, and yes, I said ANY.  And deep down Danielle, there is a part of me that would be perfectly ok with being taken out by a truck.

Two nights ago I was riding down Green Canyon Road after work, and riding as fast I have ever been on that road.  On a straight section of the road, a truck passed me then suddenly crossed in front of me, and went off the road and into a tree.  It took less than 3 seconds for me to pass those tire tracks –3 seconds.

Before I left my studio that night, I bobbled my key in my hand for about 3 seconds. Now I know that if I had not bobbled that key, and had left 3 seconds earlier and been between that truck and that tree, I would have been killed, helmet or not.  But if the truck had hit my tire, front or back, and knocked me off my bike, who knows – vegetable soup..?

I’m sorry I did not keep my promise to you, but if you ever see me ride without a helmet again, call me out on it, please.

roy

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I have some bad hair days ahead of me...

Destiny, And The Little Picture

The driver of that truck was ok, called a tow truck, and did not want me to stick around.  I was trembling so much I could barely keep my feet on the pedals of my bike as I rode the final miles to my house.  All that evening I kept thinking about bobbling that key.  What, I thought, would have happened if I had left my studio 2, or 3, or 4 seconds earlier…? I would have been right were that truck was. 

One could play a futile head game of destiny that, if I had been in that spot 3 seconds ahead, perhaps the driver would have seen me there, steered away from me, and I would have actually saved him from swerving and hitting the tree.  But a more likely scenario exists where I could have been tenderized, pureed, or both.  There’s just no tellin’…

I don’t know what destiny is anymore.  I have survived a parachute malfunction, a lightning strike, the foolish act of jumping into a class IV rapid after a beer-based breakfast, driving a truck with an unknown rattlesnake under the driver’s seat, being thrown into a jetty by a wave that refused to close out, and a few other self-induced brushes…  Still, I carry on.

Biology expands.  Societies expand.  Time and the universe expand.  And at the end of the day, for some reason, the story of me continues to expand.  It’s not just me who’s lucky to be alive though, it’s you too.   I’m curious, please use the comments section and share your “lucky to still be here” stories.  They may be used in a future essay or series of essays.  Be well.  rc

Oh, and there is this, from Dog Trumpet, the modern day decedants of Mental As Anything.  Enjoy…

11 responses

  1. Memorial Day 8 years ago. Me, my big tall horse, my very stubborn attitude about safety, no helmet, no cell phone, no riding partner and a remote riverbed….horse tripped and fell forward. I looked at the boulder, the deep water and thought I saw Jesus! Rode back to the truck and trailer…loaded the horse and have not ridden since that day.

    Just last week a friend asked if I still had my bucket list. I saw nothing pressing why? She offered to get me back on a horse. A very “sweet” Arabian Stallion who is a National Champion, his name is Second Tsultan..she said I really should consider this chance to “have the ride of my life”. I have thought about that offer probably a hundred times since Thursday. I am also thinking it is time to re-activate my bucket list!

    • I remember you told me about this once Chris. And though it may be time to break out the bucket list again, the flowers seem be your “happy place” these days, and your work is amazing…

  2. Love the version of Strange Brew. Hard song to play and not sound like a stupid cover band. Glad your ticket didn’t get punched. Drove behind you this morning. Your calves are definitely looking world class.

    Rob

  3. Lucky to be alive? I have never jumped out of an airplane or down a waterfall, but when I was 15 years old my brother and 2 of our cousins went fishing. They did not come back alive. I know you know the story, but I really think it was my ‘lucky to be alive’ story. It was clearly the worst time in my life and as I grow older I feel like I live my life for them, for my brother, so I push myself more. I live with a happy heart that I am alive and can participate in life and enjoy it! Not just exist, but truly enjoy it to the fullest. My idea of fullest may be different from others’ ideas, but I’m having a great time! At 46 years old I now dance in the kitchen while I bake, open up to going traveling – never thought I’d get to walk on the Great Wall of China, even taking up tennis at 40 years old is out of my box and has changed my life.

    To be completely honest, my brother’s death did not immediately give me the ‘lucky to be alive’ feeling. It took another scary, horrible time in my life to make me finally see that every single person is lucky to be alive. That you need to put fun and purpose in your own life. I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis about 13 years ago. This made me truly realize that I had better get healthy-physically and spiritually. The fact that I was given a clean bill of health and told I didn’t have MS (about 8 months ago) has only served to fuel me even more to living my life to the fullest. I feel so, so, so lucky!! But also know that things I did; changes I made to my diet, exercise and living with a spiritual base made this all possible. I do NOT take life for granted.

    So, my brother always told me to take my vitamins, eat my vegetables and exercise. At 16 he knew these things and bugged me to be healthy. I didn’t listen. I wonder if the MS diagnosis was another way he bugged me to get healthy. I picture him not only smiling ‘down’ on me and being so very happy that I am free from fear and self-doubt, and living a full, fun life, without guilt, but I KNOW he is saying, “I told you so.”

    And no, I do not feel that I have to jump out of an airplane to feel lucky to be alive. (That thought scares the crap out of me!) Loving my family and friends, having parties, playing tennis, making wine, traveling, starting new businesses, seeing my kids start their lives and definitely-exercising with you, all make me feel lucky to be alive!!!!!!

    • With all that went into that comment Dawn, it’s last paragraph that struck me most — that living, not near-dying is a great reminder of why it’s great to be alive. I had forgotten about your brother — going to chew on that for a while so I don’t forget again.

  4. Nearly had breast cancer a few times. I know this sounds strange, but once you’ve been through batteries of tests with doctors fussing over you, operating on you, telling you worst-case scenarios, you begin to understand you’ve dodged a bullet. This last time, over Christmas, I had a feeling of dread that last two months while all the testing was being done. I just can’t describe how free I felt after the call came saying I was ok…

  5. Gosh – don’t know where to start.
    The music is great – love it!
    Enjoy offline time – souldmedicine is lovely….
    Helmet? ALWAYS – even when putzing around the neighborhood. BF+ doesn’t wear his around our cruises and it scares me…
    The other stuff? I’m undercaffeinated or underinebriated to get it…

  6. My dear friend, Roy Where to begin on this one, I know not…let’s just say that I have been told more than once in my life to consider myself lucky. I think you know me well enough to know I say: pffhhhhh! Whatever will be, will be! When My time comes, I will surely have lived all I can out of this earthly life…no regrets, EVER! No helmets, no safe-bets, no following the so-called rules to the letter…LIVE, LAUGH, LOVE…as hard as you can…ALWAYS!!!

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