The View In the Rearview

Posted: October 28, 2013 in Life Lessons
Tags: , , , ,
Always check behind you...

Always check behind you…

There are certain moments in life that are burned into memory like an image is burned onto a roll of film. I have several that, if I sit for a moment and close my eyes, I can see the playback of that memory, as if I am watching it on a movie screen. For whatever reason, certain memories have such impact that they don’t leave, they define.

I had one of these moments on Thursday. The image: glancing into my rear-view mirror as a small red car approached rapidly, watching with the certainty that this car was going to hit me and there was nothing I could do about it. That little snapshot of fate reflected in a rear-view mirror will likely be a memory that stays with me for a long while.

My drive into work every day takes place on an Interstate that has been under construction for the better part of a year. The divided highway has been reduced to single lane traffic separated by a low concrete wall. I have seen and driven by many wrecks. Impatient people trying to get where they are going are a frequent side effect of road construction.

On this particular morning, Thursday, I am a veteran of driving this maze of concrete and cones, vigilant for slowdowns and other hazards.

As it turns out, I learned a new defensive driving technique just a few weeks before. My boyfriend, Luke and I were just about 50 minutes into a trip from Arkansas to Maine, heading into Fayetteville, Arkansas during 5pm traffic, when we rounded a curve and barreled down on a line of stopped traffic at about 55 miles an hour. There was no way to come to a complete stop in the distance we had. I was watching the car stopped in front of us, but Luke was looking in the rear-view mirror at the truck behind us, who would not be able to stop if we did.

We were in the left lane, and Luke did the only thing he could do . . . pulled out past the rumble strip and kept going down the line of stopped cars until we could slow down and pull back in. No wreck, no big truck plowing into the back of our van with three kids in the backseat.

Disaster averted.

We have no idea if that truck behind us stopped or hit the stopped car that we went around.

Fast forward to my seemingly inevitable encounter with the little red car. I couldn’t pull out around the van in front of me because there wasn’t enough room for me, so I inched a little closer to it, hoping that few extra inches would make a difference. It did . . . the red car stopped fast behind me, and then I heard the smack and crunch of the truck behind her slamming in to her bumper, and then another as the car behind did the same. I was the last car before the accident, and pulled slowly ahead as the line of traffic began to move, watching in the rear-view as people began to exit their crunched vehicles, thinking about the traffic jam that was happening for all the cars behind them.

It doesn’t matter if you believe in fate, karma, common sense driving . . . whatever beliefs that you hold fast to, when a close encounter happens, it forces you to take a moment and appreciate this small window we are given to breathe, love, live, have a purpose, connect with people and enjoy every little moment that makes life worth getting up every day.

A heart shaped leaf my daughter gave me. My hand on the left, hers on the right...

A heart shaped leaf my daughter gave me. My hand on the left, hers on the right…

That memory of the car in my rear-view will stick, and it’s a scary one, but that doesn’t make it any more important than the one where the sun hits the trees just right during a glowing sunset, or my daughter takes my hand in full view of all her friends, or I wake up with an arm wrapped tight around me.

The memory of what I watched unfold in my rear-view mirror makes me appreciate the fact that I am here to enjoy all the rest of the moments that make my life mine.

Do you have a vivid memory that made an impact on you?

Did it change your perspective or push you into action?

Leave your thoughts in the comments!

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