In life, some times you find yourself cruising down a hill on a small windy country road dotted with unobstructed views of the Pacific ocean, that which lies so close the scent permeates every cell of your existence, the skies blue and the wind calm, and the only thought that breaks up the silence of your content mind is the ever pressing question as where to stop for lunch.
In other moments, like even seconds after the previous, on that very same same stretch of road you’ll find yourself straddling the non-existent shoulder as cars in both directions meet each other at a very timely interval that coincides with your tiny existence, and you might even find your front wheel veering off the road on a 1/2 foot drop to the gravel ditch (a mind that was thinking of lunch is not the same mind you wish to have when facing a matter of survival, though certainly lunch=survival in the most superficial sense). While physics declares this situation unsuitable for forward movement on one’s bicycle, the natural order of things agrees that you are still quite capable of such travels – prooooooooojecticle! – and thus the head goes first, helmet to pavement, soft flesh rubbed raw on asphalt, bones and muscles jarred with sudden and direct contact.
Time stood still for only a moment as I lay there, but when faced with trauma there is a fight or flight reaction that takes place, and I am instantly back on my feet, and wheeling my bicycle to the ditch. I stood there unsure of everything, my head is pounding, my legs are shaking, and the burning of my skin is slowly beginning to make itself known. There is very clearly an ache in my left shoulder that starts to show itself more and more as the adrenaline coursing through my body dissipates, but am relieved to find that everything else is business as usual. The vehicles who had front row of my mysterious self-induced crash are quick to ask if I’m OK, and I assure them that I am though I really don’t know if it’s true – in the true order of Carol-Anneism, I did not want to cause any more of a scene or inconvenience more than I already have (slap me plz). They leave promptly, and I stand there in the ditch, and just stand, standing standing standing away.
Eventually I take assessment of my bicycle, and find that the handlebars are bent to a 45 degree angle and therefore I’m unable to ride anywhere, and do not have the strength left in me to straighten them out, so I stand some more waiting for someone to come along to give me a hand. A few minutes pass, and another bike tourer comes by who I flag down, and it is just my luck that he is also loaded with all of the needed tools to get my bicycle back on the road, as well as a first aid kit to help clean the wounds. I thank him profusely for his kindness, and wave him along his way as I regroup in order to get back on 2 wheels.
It takes only a few minutes back on the bike to allow reflection, and tears start to flow once I realize that if I had not been wearing my helmet, which I have spent years riding without, I surely would not be here right now, not in the way I am or at all. The scars on my helmet tell me what could have been, and I know that I’ll never get back on a bicycle without one again. You can go through your entire life without getting into an accident, but if you do… The experience I’ve gained reminds that when you brave the elements of the \road~life/ that the more prepared you are for survival, the more likely you will survive should it ever come about.
I suspect I have fractured my clavicle, but it’s too soon to tell amongst the swelling. The pain is chronic, thus I gain empathy for those who live in pain indefinitely with no sense of recovery or relief – I know that this will pass eventually, so I ride it out.
The contrast between this time yesterday, and today, reminds me of the fluctuations of life, that the attachments built up around anything so inconstant as life itself is best left written in a journal should you ever wish to remind yourself of once was, as the present moment will never show itself again.
Today, the biggest obstacle I face is my own mind, because there carries all of the resentment and dis ease that grow from the fast-and-easy car centred culture that this country is founded on. The farther I head south, the more apparent it is that the roadways are really not for anything besides vehicles, unless you are able to find acceptance in the constant drone of vehicles, the smells of exhaust, and the ever pressing reality of fatality in crossing over the white line.
To keep humour in my spirit, with the vehicles that press forward and the ones that come from behind, I envision the people in the vehicle without the massive confines of steel enclosing them from the realities of this BEAUTIFUL land, and seeing them as small and vulnerable as I am (but still in their sitting form which is the funny part, those silly people).
The vehicle is the illusion.