12 more hours of thought

I have always understood the inherent danger of life. We are surrounded by danger and as much as we fight death, the nature of the world is that life is extremely fleeting. Nothing about it is secured or guaranteed. But I am willing to accept that for the ability to live. But when unnecessary risk is taken to limit to possibly of me continuing on my journey, I am rightfully ticked.

When I was on the Appalachian trail hiking surrounded by freezing temperatures, hostile animals, intestine-eating parasites, and horrific storms, I felt a different sense of danger than I experience here in the world we have become accustomed to. My friends and I all agreed that we felt significantly safer in the woods than we did in civilization. People just sometimes don’t understand the dangers of what we consider civilized life. We are trained to believe in the safety and comfort of this world because the reality is too hard to handle.

Eighteen months ago, I became victim to this and was caught speeding at 97 miles per hour. But once I saw the Mythbusters drive a car into a concrete wall at a mere 3 miles an hour faster, I decided against seeking that thrill again.

Humans drilled the heaviest and strongest stuff we could find out of the earth and attached an explosion powered propulsion machine to it and called it a car. No matter what the crash test rating is, there is still an absurd amount of danger in driving and being a pedestrian for us to treat the action as lightly as we do. Firstly, we have speed limits for a reason. Period.

Second, have you ever wakened from a deep day dream while driving, realized you had switched lanes several times, taken many turns, driven through several traffic lights, and do not remember anything about these actions? I have and I fight to not do it again. We just zone out while driving as if we are on a straight track home. But many times that unconscious driving leads on a detour to the emergency room or even a new home buried in the earth.

This morning I wrote about an experience with a motorcyclist that did this same thing. He needed to be at work in three minutes and was willing to sacrifice leaving his children for an early grave to get there on time. He yelled and screamed at me accusing me that it was 100% my fault. And yet I had no fault other than being at the wrong place at the wrong time that could have led to disaster for me.

My teammates and I watched a bloody broken man be put on a back board and taken to the hospital. I have always thought about the guilt of causing someone else harm out of utter negligence. I have thought about how I would much prefer be the pedestrian hit and killed by a drunk driver than the drunk driver who survived after killing an innocent pedestrian. Of course I don’t have to worry specifically about this situation but it is just an example. Rather, I am simply emphasizing my point that I am unsure if I could handle living with that sort of guilt. I wanted to emphasize to my teammates today that we did nothing wrong because I sure know that initially the blame wore on me. But the more exaggerated and absurd the upset man’s argument became the more I realized it had been totally his fault. None of us should feel at fault for any bit of what happened this morning. It was hard enough to witness something like that, much less feel guilty for it.

I listened as I stood there redirecting traffic around his shattered bike and broken body. He repeated how it was our fault. He continued pointing fingers and saying how if it had not been for his bike handling ability, he would be dead. But I saw the incident and I saw a gut force squeeze on the rear brake sending him into a fishtail instead of using the more effective front brake. I wanted to say something. I wanted to start the fight with a broken man. But he was on the ground and I was standing, shaken but not broken. So I kept my mouth shut to let him realize this all on his own. He may come back with a vengeance and honk at every runner or get as close as possible to us in attempt to claim dominance over public roads. But he may come back and realize that we have just as much right out there, especially on a low traffic, low-speed road. And maybe, just maybe he’ll give us our space and slow down next time.

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