I almost got hit by a moving van on my ride this morning. It was a close call. I've experienced several since I started to ride regularly seven years ago.
Once, a guy nearly sideswiped me as he turned a corner. He hadn't bothered to look my way. He'd just started to pull out onto my road. I was headed straight, so it was my right-of-way. Plus, I was in the bike lane, exactly where I was supposed to be. If I hadn't been paying attention...
And yesterday, it was a similar set of circumstances. I was riding on the main road in my neighborhood when a van behind me passed me to pull into a side street on our right. But then, as soon as he turned, he immediately started backing out without warning, without stopping to see what might be coming up behind him. With a car coming up from behind me, I knew I had no place to go without getting hit by either the car or the van, and I had no time to stop. If I hadn't been paying attention, if the car behind me hadn't been just far enough behind me to swerve in front of, and if he hadn't been paying enough attention to see what was ahead of him...I would have been hit. Goodness knows why the driver in the van started backing up without waiting for me to pass. He'd just seen me and knew I was there, for goodness sakes. But that kind of thing happens. A lot.
It's really up to me to be aware of what's in front of me, off to the sides, and behind. I need to know what's going on all around me, so I can be prepared to act in a moment's notice. Truthfully, I really doubt the plastic helmet on my head is going to save my life should I get hit by a moving vehicle while I'm riding my bike. It's not a body shield made of armour. But I wear it for the same reason I pay attention--to do what I can to save myself from harm while on the road.
My sister (pictured, left, above with me on the right) just experienced a close call of her own yesterday morning. She was driving to work in a town that is forested, and as she was getting ready to drive onto a freeway, a deer jumped at her car and wound up going straight through her windshield, landing in her lap. When she told me what happened, that blood was everywhere, I wondered how she could know she wasn't injured. But she knew. She knew it was the deer who had caused all that bloodshed. And it was the deer who lost its life. She was saved. Somehow, the deer didn't do her any harm. He didn't even try to get up, she said.
Her car was totaled in this accident. And when the police arrived, they had to shoot the deer to put the poor animal out of its misery.
In my sister's case, the deer arrived so suddenly, it wouldn't have mattered how well she was paying attention. This kind of close call is not so much about being aware, it's about being lucky.
Or is it?
Some people might say it wasn't her time to go, or, she was in the wrong place at the right time, or some other cliche to explain why she's still alive after an accident that one would think would have, at the very least, left her seriously injured. She did receive a cut on her finger, she said, from a piece of glass. But that's it. She was virtually unharmed, though very shaken, by the whole ordeal.
Maybe she is lucky, or maybe it wasn't her time to go. But she's feeling very happy to be alive today.
What kind of close call have you experienced in your life? Has it made you stop and think, or reexamine your life up to that moment?
If you were to reflect on your close calls, your turning points, your reawakenings, what lessons would you say you've taken away from them? And if you have received lessons, how do you continue to use those lessons in your life today?
Journaling your thoughts down on paper might bring additional enlightenment. If you meditate on your responses, you might also learn something new about yourself.
Today, let the close calls in your life become life-long lessons.
All my best,