Sunday, August 17, 2014

'Life Goes 'round in Circles' until it doesn't. What's the lesson in that?

I was hit by a car. On August 16th. While riding down Paradise Drive, the last few turns before the idyllic bayside town of Tiburon, an old, dulled silver station wagon turned left. Feet in front of me. I hit my brakes. I couldn't stop. I tried to turn. Slam! My tire hit the grill. I was launched off my bike onto the car's hood, slid up and onto the windshield and then dropped off the edge onto the pavement. First to hit was my back followed by my helmeted head, bu-bump. I remember the sounds: crunch, skid, thump-thump. Then silence.
Infinity Loop
I looked up at the cloudless blue sky under which, moments before, I had been riding. And smiling. Had I cracked ribs? Crushed bones? Was my back broken? Could it possibly be, after this violent crash, that I was actually alright? What if I wasn't? Rather than my past flashing before my eyes, it was my future that I contemplated. I exercise daily. It's like water for me. What if I couldn't do that anymore? What other limitations would that bring to the rest of my life? What might I not be able to do anymore? To think that in 5 seconds, or less, my life path could be determined. By someone else.
An old, grey haired man with crooked teeth looked out of his opened car window at me. Lying on my back, I looked up at him. "You were going too fast," he said. I had been going down a hill and I was moving for sure. Did that make me at fault? Then I thought, of course, he's nervous, he's trying to absolve himself of his mistake, thinking of his insurance premiums going up, replacing my crumpled bike, worried about my medical costs, the threat of losing his license... I didn't respond.
Yes, he is at fault: a left-turning vehicle must yield to oncoming traffic. I have scraped elbows, a bruised bump on the inside of my right knee where it probably hit the center bar of my bike, another big, bruised bump on my lower right back onto which I made my final landing and a scrape on my right lower back. My neck is stiff.
So what's my take-away, my lesson? Of course, I'm thankful beyond words that I walked away from what could have been a tragic outcome. And it served as a reminder to enjoy every moment because I'll never know when it might be my last, or the last as I knew it. But there's something else. Something about a calmness that I experienced throughout the entire ordeal - from seeing the car turn, my hitting into it, flying off my bike, landing and wondering about my condition. People who know me, including me, wouldn't put 'calm' at the top of, or even on the Dana's qualities list. Yet I was calm. Receiving what came rather than fighting it or bracing against it. I went with the flow. I actually believe that it was my yielding that saved me. That's my lesson. Assert and receive. Yang and yin. Action and calm. That makes me smile.