Monday, December 01, 2014

The path we leave behind ~ my column from Sunday's paper

Jilda and I were almost killed in our car this week. One moment we were talking, laughing and listening to our favorite song on the car’s stereo … and the next moment a pickup truck was passing an oncoming car on a hill and full in our lane.

Driven by reflex and pure adrenaline, I swerved completely off the road and all three vehicles passed abreast in a space barely big enough for two cars.

The truck brakes were screaming and boiling rubber trying to maintain control. I was surprised he didn’t swerve into the other car beside him, but he didn’t.

When my heart retreated from my throat, I said some unkind things about him, and questioned his linage.

I struggled to understand what would be so important for someone to pass another vehicle on a blind curve or hill.

I’ve heard people say that their lives flashed before their eyes at times like that, but not for me.

The incident drove home the fact that life can change from one breath to another.

It also brought on an epiphany — as some people move through life, they leave a swath of destruction in their wake.

I’ve had friends and family who did this. The destruction wasn’t caused by cars, but by the addiction to alcohol and sometimes drugs.

I guess they believed somewhere deep inside that they were only hurting themselves, but the damage was broader.

No treatment, counseling, begging or pleading helped. Whenever these folks tried to come to terms with their condition, they looked outward for the root cause of their problems.

They blamed parents, siblings, bosses  and friends, but they never considered the responsibility for the problem lie elsewhere.

Those fortunate enough to rise above were usually the ones who finally looked deep inside to discover the true culprit.

In looking back over the last few paragraphs, I realized I’ve strayed a little, but in the broader view, I’m still inbounds.

Sometimes it takes a sickness, the loss of a close friend, or a near head-on collision for you to start thinking about your life and the footprints you are leaving behind.

It’s easy to look outward and to see where others strayed off course, but it’s much harder looking at your own life.

But the Greek philosopher Socrates nailed it when he said, “… the life which is unexamined is not worth living…”

That’s as bitter as green persimmon to swallow, but I think it’s essential for self-growth. The only way anyone can get better is to understand what they’re doing wrong and change.

I really hope the driver who ran us off the road last Saturday had to change to a clean pair of underwear after that episode. I also hope the next time he’s in that big of a hurry he’ll leave a little earlier so that he doesn’t risk his life, or the lives of others.

The sky tonight.


  1. Life amazes me often because each day brings new lessons learned. What we do with those lessons is what really makes a difference. Hopefully, the driver will learn from this before he hurts himself or someone else. Glad you and Jilda are okay!

  2. I didn't want to miss your column Rick, I always enjoy it... I couldn't agree with you more... we do need to look deeply inward to battle our demons... so glad to hear that you and Jilda are okay ;-)

  3. Wow - that column should have given your readers something to think over.

    Ms Soup

  4. Wow.. how terrifying. I'm glad nobody was hurt. And I hope that there was at least as much reflection experienced by the truck driver as your own.

  5. I'm so grateful you're okay.


  6. Very good article. The thinking kind are the best. I like it when one says, hey, this is relevant to NOW. And it is. Yes it is very hard to come up with something important enough to risk several lives for 30 seconds of gain, if that.

  7. Anonymous4:08 PM

    When you think about it, ANY minute could be our last. I'm glad you put that beautiful picture after the post to calm me down!!

  8. Talk about life flashing before your eyes!! So happy you both are well. Anyone who drives like that is destined to get caught sometime or another.

  9. This could have had such a tragic outcome. I love your writing and I'm glad you survived this incident so you can create more of it.

  10. Life can change in a heartbeat! I'm glad that you and Jilda came through this near-collision.

  11. My heart was in my throat as I read about the near accident that you and Jilda experienced. A terrifying ordeal....and I'm so glad that you both are OK.
    I love the reflection about the paths that we take in life.
    I pray that you have a blessed December.
    Sending you both love,

  12. Scary! You just never know when you walk out the door everyday what may happen. Glad you had the wherewithal to pull over like you did. One split second..thank God you guys are OK. There were a few good messages in your post, my friend!! Thanks for the reminders!


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