All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
All the Possibilities
Here’s a little ditty for a dark November night:
I could’ve died this summer. On my commute to work one early August morning, I turned a blind curve and encountered a truck barreling toward me on the wrong side of the road. My body reacted before my conscious mind could catch up; in the span of a single second, I turned the wheel sharply to the right, veered into the brush on the edge of the pavement, slammed hard on the brake, and watched as the driver looked up from his cell phone and swerved out of the way of an otherwise inevitable collision.
It was a good thing he didn’t hit me. His vehicle probably packed three times the poundage of my comparatively puny hybrid, and in spite of the five-star crash test ratings that Ford Fusions proudly sport, I’m not sure they’re built to withstand the head-on power of a charging Chevy.
Of course, there’s a decent chance that I wouldn’t have died anyway. I might’ve been paralyzed. I might’ve suffered a severe case of whiplash. Or somehow, miraculously, I might not have been injured at all; the airbag could’ve taken the pummeling instead. Frankly, the only consequence indubitably avoided was a car insurance nightmare. Amen for that.
It’s funny, though, because considering the host of unattractive possibilities that we thankfully managed to steer clear of (pun intended), the impacts of this event were awfully slight. The driver sped away after evading my car – it wasn’t the best set-up for bonding time. In any case, I don’t know how he’s been doing; one can only hope he’s learned not to text behind the wheel.
I, on the other hand, spilled a bit of my tea, but when I finally got to drink it upon arriving at the office, I could swear that I’ve never tasted anything sweeter. My car wasn’t damaged, and although I sat shaking in my seat for the five minutes that followed, I wouldn’t say I was traumatized. I did, however, develop a tendency to hug the lip of the road whenever a truck came by – a habit that served me well when an even bigger vehicle nearly bulldozed me two months later.
Yup, you read that right. I was en route to my high school, tired and unsuspecting, and the driver of some wood-carrying beast of an automobile decided that it was better to remain in the middle of the narrow street than to shift to his side and allow me to pass. As a result, I had to drive off the road to avoid him, which would have been fine if not for the jaggedness of the asphalt’s unforgiving border. One tire was sliced open; another was punctured; I was two hours late to school, and the costs of repair exceeded $550.
So I hate trucks. Hate ‘em. Unequivocally, uncompromisingly. But therein lies the absurdity: this hatred I now harbor – this anxiety – it’s irrational. It sprung from the actions of two particular drivers; our engagements, despite their proximity, were isolated. In statistics, we call them outliers. A pair of trucks might have come close to blowing me clean off the road, but I’ve probably passed hundreds of others without incident. I have no right to hate them all. I’ve got no rationale for fearing them, only the emotional sum of two frightening experiences. They should technically amount to far less, and yet they don’t, because human nature impels us to take stock in what scares us the silliest.
It’s strange, then, but just as equally unsurprising how as a society, we persist to live in fear. Fear of terrorism, fear of warfare, fear of contagions. Fear of all that can kill, maim, threaten or endanger us. It is, indeed, nonsensical – you can’t really play chess with the Reaper. Death isn’t an entity to be cheated or tricked, nor is it a monster that you can ward off through bold confrontation. Rather, it’s an omnipresent fate, and what we can’t seem to come to grips with is our ultimate inability to exercise full control over its distribution.
In some respects, of course, we can control it. We take measures of safety that are frequently effective, and I won’t deny that it’s comforting to know that they’re in place. There is a point, however, at which the constant dread of dying must be come to some sort of a standstill. We’re all going to die; that’s a fact, and there’s no reason why it should need to cripple us with worry. We can amp up our security and accumulate volumes of medical research, but there’ll be no peace unless we learn to separate the normal from the abnormal – in essence, unless we learn to stay sane.
Here’s the truth: I could’ve died this summer. I didn’t, but I could’ve. And I could also spend my whole life dodging trucks, only to choke to death on a bologna sandwich; the outcome would be the same. What’s to fear? Death may be morbid, but it’s also consistent. We’ll know it when it comes – until then, let’s hit the gas and carry on.