"Go, go, go" and rush, rush, rush describe the holiday scene today. Many of us will struggle to meet the dominant pace, expectation and commercialism while others will drop out or dive in ---perhaps regretting their decision in the new year. Some of us will find stillness, reflection time; peace.
I found that time in a traffic jam. Flying down the southbound interstate on my way home from shopping I came to a stop behind a long line of vehicles idling in the night. Like them, I expected to drive on soon. The sound of sirens approaching caused us to squeeze aside on that narrow forested stretch of freeway and, when they'd passed, we eased back onto the lanes. Some drivers inched along the area where emergency vehicles had passed in hopes of going through. Those first trespassers got a horn from the semi truck in front of me and before more could pass the trucker moved quickly to shut off that lane. I wondered what he knew that I didn't to make such an aggressive move? More sirens forced us to quickly pull aside helter-skelter and then we waited, frozen in our disorganization, cars idling for another 15-20 minutes until, one by one, drivers shut off their engines; the road and forest dark around us.
After 1/2 an hour or so a few drivers got out of their cars and walked down the road toward whatever lay ahead. Though it was unseasonably warm, most people stayed in place illumined occasionally in the blue light of a phone. Craning out my window I looked upward at the trees, breathed in the night air. It was peaceful though I was anxious to get going. One man returning said there had been an explosion and troopers didn't think the road would open until midnight--two hours away. He was rushing back to his car because he heard there was a high speed chase coming our way. That excitement never materialized. Instead, we sat together in our separate shells in a silence broken intermittently by the rumble of semi trucks coming up the northbound lanes. Once in awhile I got out of the car and walked over to assess the long line in front and back or just to stand in the night. After an hour or so two more people returning said they thought the road would open in 5 minutes. Half an hour later lights, engines.
We easily formed two orderly lanes out of our chaos and proceeded forward slowly. Soon we were funneled into single file riding past an unnatural scene. Beside us flashing lights and flood lamps revealed an imploded jumble of steel, foam, and tires. A semi now melted and disturbingly incinerated. No one could have survived that explosion but, like so many of the horrors we see in life, we simply moved on; heading home at last.
When I arrived at my place I was too exhausted to think but in the morning I realized that I spend so much of my lifetime distracted by the demands and enticements around me and the various states of my mind/body that I'm mostly unaware of the miracle of life and breath. Being alive. I worry about what I should be and what I am and I neglect to wonder the more meaningful question of who I am. Yet once in awhile I'm gifted, as we all are, with powerful and unexpected moments to stop and reflect. Like so many people faced with the awesome force of nature or an unexpected life altering event, last night I was reminded that everything bows to a higher power. All that I believe I have in life is but a gift. It's all on loan while I walk here on earth or until the moment that it's not. The miracle of life and breath so fragile, temporary, and often taken for granted.
Our lives are a gift we open every time we awaken. So, the next time you're delayed going from point A to point B, check in with yourself, readers--you just might find time to ponder that profound fact. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!