I blew a tire at speed on the interstate today. The van I was driving along at seventy-five (yep, seventy-five is what I’m claiming) suddenly popped up in the air with a resounding bang. I thought I’d hit something for a moment until the weaving and shuddering started. I was in the left lane and a semi was pumping along not far behind in the right. We managed to switch places fairly promptly without hitting each other. I made it to the shoulder at the far end of an entrance ramp, where, interestingly enough, someone coming onto the interstate much too fast came pretty close to creaming me in the back (yes, he was on the shoulder as he was trying to merge).
I was never really scared. I was definitely startled, but not scared. I didn’t even get enough adrenaline to get the shakes afterward. I suppose I could have died. The guy in the semi could have died. The mentally challenged person merging could have died. I didn’t really even consider that until hours later. I’m not bothered by death, at least not my own. No fears for me beyond that gate. I do have some fears about causing pain to loved ones who might miss me. The whole incident did, though it’s rampantly clichéd, cause me to think about how quickly things can change.
Every breath you or I take, something changes. Every heartbeat we have, someone’s life is permanently changed in a large and shocking fashion. Sometimes it’s our own. We tend (at least I do) to roll along, blithely assuming that each next moment will be just like the last and that the one after that is a guarantee. We assume this in the face of a staggering mountain of examples that this is simply not so. We do it, I know, because life would be too much work without those assumptions that fly in the face of reality. Joys and tragedies happen constantly around us as the world shifts from discrete moment to discrete moment.
One of my favorite authors has pointed out, in many clever and entertaining ways, that boredom is an amazing invention that humanity has come up with to protect us from the constant, astounding wonder of the universe changing around us. I think that’s true. I also think it’s needful that, every now and then, we take a moment to recognize, no matter how clichéd, that life alters every single moment.
Pay attention to your moments, as often as you can.