Picture courtesy Wiki. Not actual accident referred to in column.
Written by David Glenn Cox
Its really amazing to be here, its really amazing to be this far. I should have been killed at twenty, when I was thrown from an open car, moving at eighty miles an hour. I just got up and walked away, no shit. An as absurd as it may sound, in all the dirt and the confusion, you learn something. In the terror and emotional outrage, there is a gift inside for you.
A vision of your own life squeezed into a frozen instant, suspended, that you find out a lot about who you are. I don’t know, maybe, we’ve all had some issue in our own traumatic past. Terrors and night terrors, that sleep with you in the night. Maybe, we all just want be special, that there has to be a reason why I’m here. There’s too many laws of physics that have been overruled to ignore it.
You don’t get thrown out of car tumbling end over end at eighty miles and just get up and walk away. You assume, life has to have some higher feature on another plain, or maybe, it’s plain dumb luck. Every millionth accident victim gets a free pass, and it was my lucky day and I didn’t even realize it.
I changed my dirty ways, I was reformed. I got married and I had two kids, and it was great. I used to ask myself while I was living that life, is this just a dream? Am I back in that frozen moment being shown what I was about to miss? Life’s funny that way, even if you know, you never know. No matter who your God or prophet is, you may know, and you may think you know, but you never really know.
In my frozen moment, I was detached from this world, yet still connected to humanity. Of the many of my public crimes they only counted on this level, but there on that other level I felt guilt and remorse only for the crime of meanness. All of my crimes were exposed and judged from afar. Only meanness was a condemnable crime, the wilful infliction of pain on other creatures for our own amusement.
It sounds kinda crazy when you say it like that, but that’s what it is, and there is no denying it, we’ve all done it. Yet, it is the worse crime in all the universe. To be cruel to one an other for fun, to our parents or to our children, to anybody and everybody. We build walls and throw emotional barbs over those walls at each other. Hoping to score a direct hit or the emotional knock out blow.
All mammals spar with each other, especially when they are young and wrestling for supremacy. But their goal is not to injure each other. Only we, you, us, do it for our pleasure. Why are we like that? Why do we do that? Is their not some way to change ourselves? Perhaps the die is cast, perhaps, we cannot save ourselves from ourselves. A failed evolutionary experiment, a lab project gone horribly wrong. A moldering petri dish needing to be scraped out.
Isn’t that the goal of religion? Some allegory to illustrate, right from wrong for the folks in the Hustings and the easily amused? To tell us what to do, when what we should do, we should do without being told to do it. When it would be all so easy to understand life, if we weren’t tumbling through it at a high rate of speed. You can only watch where you’re going and can’t look out the widows to see what’s going on all around us.
We don’t know where we came from, and we don’t know where we are going. And we sure as hell, don’t know what we are doing, while we’re here. We stumble and we dance and sometimes we inflict this pain innocently. But we’re all scared as hell in this life, and perceive any injury as an attack. We build our own personal, emotional Maginot line to protect us and to wall us off from the world.
None dare enter, none dare close, the accoutrements of battle are too fierce until we find ourselves alone. Resting comfortably on our cushy self delusion’s and vain self importance as a King of our own castle. Wandering aimlessly emotionally, in our mind’s palace and wanting to scream at the top of our lungs, never seated reading the paper but always emotionally raging. Living on autopilot, doing things automatically. A shot, an answer, a snide remark. Building stone by stone the buttresses and redoubts of our own isolation.
We are all the same, we are all made of the same stuff, we all live through the same experiences with only slight differences. There are no biological reasons that make borders necessary. They are a political barriers to protect wealth, and geographic and religious boundaries, why? Because its mine, that’s why, and I’m afraid someone will steal it. Those people, the shorter or taller or darker or lighter people might be plotting to take it right now!
So you know what comes next, we begin the wars with enthusiasm and mourn the dead on Memorial day and the only thing ever forgotten, is what the war was about in the first place. It is the eternal meanness, given to us all by life, in a mean world where we are all first timers and don’t know what we are doing. It is a pretty scary thing to not know were you’ve been, nor where you are going. To be just dropped in to life unawares. Now you know why the new puppy pees on the floor.
We are cut off from the world and in our safe little palisades and we never really touch life at all out of fear, our own fear and others fear. Our original sin and our flaw in the slaw that we just can’t seem to shake off. The prodigal son returns home and he’s still a jerk. We’ve had our share of Messiah’s and holy men, sooth sayers, prophets, philosophers. Bell ringers, snake charmers, Shakers, Quakers and takers, psalm singers and smiling overdressed TV preachers. After all the many centuries of these beliefs and philosophies there seems not one iota of movement towards changing our very worst trait.
Not one ounce of improvement in two thousand years. That says such bad things about us. If anything, we’ve grown worse, even if the improvement in our killing skills has to do to more with our technology and not our ambition. We’ve reached the basement of our ambitions. Thank goodness that we can get no worse than what we are today. Even so, it says that our own demise as a species is more of a question of when, than if.
So what’s this life all about? Scared frightened children hiding under the bed? Ready to throw rocks before someone can throw rocks at us? Ready to start wars before someone else can start one? Always challenging, always taunting and always threatening and trying to convince the other frightened children that we aren’t scared. Or plotting in our eternal meanness to use, or to take, or to manipulate the situation.
As I was being checked out at the hospital the paramedics came in to see me. They had just been told that I was about to be released and were stunned. I was brought in unconscious and came to with no injuries except a broken collarbone. My hair was full of sand and sticks but other than that, not a scratch on me, no shit. The shoelace on my right shoe had been pulled tight at the bottom until it had snapped. It left four or five inches of shoelace dangling off either side of my shoe.
The paramedics looked at me strangely, almost like I was an alien creature. It was the look that famous celebrities get, the look of I can believe I’m really seeing you here. They couldn’t believe that they were really seeing me. A guy thrown three hundred feet from a moving car, a guy about to walk away from it. A guy who in a frozen moment saw the edge of life and the borders of death, and walked away from it.
For just one instant, for a single frozen moment, to see the world as it really is and to see myself as i truly am and as we all truly are, and never to be able to walk away from it. To be given the message that, “you have done nothing.” Condemned for my meanness and sentenced for my abstinence, I had done nothing to try an make the world a better place. I was just one more blob of protoplasm taking up and wasting the energy of the universe.
No God appeared to me, no light at the end of the tunnel calling me forward. Just a sense of loneliness and isolation, a mournful experience of shame and of an overwhelming sense of failure. Of being sent on a mission and failing miserably, a very simple mission, to be kind to one another, to understand the fear and confusion in each of our lives and to try and help one another.
That’s it, that’s all, but that is enough. It means that you can only change one heart at a time against an impossible uphill birthrate. Maybe this means something? Maybe its all just a fluke, but that is just so hard and improbable to believe. Scrooge got his lesson over the course of a long night, but can you believe that you can get it all in a frozen moment? In the time it takes to sneeze? In the time it takes to say, “I’m sorry” or to say, “I love you”, you’ve begun to change the world.