Yama, the Restrainer, the Finisher, Death.
The entire incident unfolded as if in slow motion. I remember my thoughts and emotions clearly. A few things stood out. In those precious moments, I knew love in those moments, the miracle of being alive and of being able to love everyone and everything. I dropped grudges, animosities, everything petty and irrelevant in my mind; nearly everything that was worrying me, all the fearful thoughts that were occupying my attention just moments before, vanished with the speed of a lightning strike. I also knew beauty in those precious few moments.
The robustly bulbous clouds stood out in vibrant, steel-colored vividness against the equally-vibrant blue panorama of sky. The wet, slippery, white, slushy road glistened and shined, lit by a miraculous, brilliant white light of the sun. This light beamed down to the road from the sky through those masses of dark gray clouds. The road side was brilliant, beauteous green, green, green, wet with vivid color by the torrential rain and hail that stopped falling just minutes before
…and the surprisingly large, dirty, white, frozen balls of hail seemed surreal, out of context—they didn’t belong in the New Mexico August heat of summer.
And yet, the sensual reality of the road, sky, clouds, grass, hail, water and the person I loved sitting next to me, thrust itself forward and demanded to be welcomed as all.
There was a suspension of routine, a slow-motion version of time replaced my ordinary fast speed of basic operations. My past somehow sped away behind me, fast enough for me to regret that many parts were sure to be irrevocably lost in the inevitable wreck that was at hand; and yet, the moments and memories came slow enough for me to know, to see, to feel, to taste the many people and things that I hadn’t properly appreciated that I would miss.
I was infinitely sad that I would never have the chance to return to my life, flaws and all, exactly as it had been before the catastrophic moments that were unfolding. The terrifyingly-real prospect of losing all or part of what I am caused me to know, in an instant, that if I let it be so,
my life is utterly perfect, full of importance, magic, love, beauty, gifts and opportunity.
As the car hurled us along the road on the brink of spinning out-of-control, me at the wheel, foot pressing and releasing the brakes, helplessly attempting to influence direction; Joy, exerting her measure of control, remaining stone-cold calm, saying the soothing words “we’re OK” each time the car righted itself after an extreme, skidding, high-speed, fishtail turn.
When the swerving was finally done, we flew off the road, speeding in the grass parallel to the roadside.
I got control of the car, I stopped.
I was terrified, shaking and alive, immeasurably grateful for Joy and my health, this gratefulness was intense and strong because I was certain in those moments that I was going to lose them.
The universe allowed me to touch and to taste death without dying, without injury… to directly experience a total loss of control over my life… to be forcibly taken over by something else—nature—and to be granted life anew.
Maybe I am being overly-critical, but I feel as though surviving such an experience ought to jolt me into new wisdom. And what a waste if it doesn’t effect a transformation in me. I saw with brutal, terrifying directness how fleeting everything is, that there is no time to waste; I must do the important things now, not later. The veil was ripped-off in a flash, the mist of illusion blown away in a single sweep. I felt that everything I know and love was going to be gone, vanished, obliterated, in an instant.
And thus I was being presented with the question: when are you going to learn to appreciate everything and everyone now?
And part of the answer that I was given to this question was, it better be now. Dear friends, we will all be gone so soon. I experienced how swiftly even radical change can come and it comes without a choice, with a finality that is without alternative, without any wiggle-room.
There was an inexplicable benevolence to it, a receiving of a gift, leaving me wondering how or why we came through it without harm. The experience was so radical, violent and dramatic; and yet, there was no calamity. That is why I conclude that nature gave us the strongest possible warning without giving punishment. If we had had a stock of merit or credit from previous good deeds, it must have all been used up in averting the almost sure disaster that ought to have taken place.
I feel blessed to have come through it unscathed, and since there was no punishment, I feel that it is a reminder of my responsibility to serve.
I was left intact so that I can redouble my efforts to serve, and I must also realize I am currently serving in an important and valuable way.
In those few, lucid moments, I saw my shadow clearly, and I saw that my shadow contributed to me being in the dire situation. I saw the wrongness of my impatience, my continual dissatisfaction—the kind that hinders not helps; my unwholesome, constant need for speed and to push, push, push to do or go or to have or make. Part of this need for speed and to feel open-space is in being able to find expression for all this energy inside of me—learning to spend that incredible life-force wisely, instead of squandering it by feeling pent-up and focusing on petty habits and immature, emotional episodes based in fear.
Please allow me to be tolerant, patient, not to despise weakness in myself and others with such intensity.
What causes a person to make a real change? What will cause him to make a real change in himself? I’m talking about something basic, like a behavioral change. Will a near death experience do it?
It was interesting that the altercation did not involve any other person or vehicle. It was between us, the road, the weather and the powerful force behind every aspect of it—whatever it was. That unseen, unknown force moved the entire event without even a blink, like a champion moves pieces on a chess board.
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Ed: Sara Crolick