Tuesday, January 7, 2014

To live in fear is to live half-heartedly

I should be somewhere in the air in the middle of the country, and on my way to Philadelphia.

Instead, I find myself comfortably typing this in Los Angeles, and not in an airport.  I had to extend my trip by a few days (entirely unrelated to weather).

What I will talk about is how I have become more aware of the simple fact that we don't have all the time in the world to do everything we want to.  I am an experiencer - I like to try new things, travel, and learn as much as possible at just about every chance I get.  Sometimes, things happen to remind me why I am this way.  A few days ago, I had a terrifying brush with disaster.  While on this trip to Los Angeles, I was borrowing a friend's car.  It was an older car, but it had been running seemingly fine as far as I could tell.  I was taking a drive to the coast to clear my mind, when all of a sudden, without warning, shit got real in the middle of the freeway.  The car lost power.  It drastically reduced speed within a couple of seconds.  The sound that the car made was unlike anything I'd heard before and I knew I was in trouble.

Instinct took over.

I managed to pull over three lanes of traffic to the shoulder and stop within about 10 seconds.  I turned the car off, grabbed my phone and purse, and got the fuck out of the car.  I called AAA.  At that point, I noticed that there was smoke coming from under the hood.   I moved further away from the car, and then I noticed that a fire had begun underneath it.  I found myself alone on the side of the freeway trying to stand as far away as possible from a burning car.  I called 911.  As I waited for help to arrive, another car filled with nice people stopped to wait with me and kept me company for my safety.  The fire department arrived quickly and put the fire out.  I can now add "surviving a car fire" to my list of lifetime accomplishments.  The CHP officer told me that I was very lucky, and that I was smart to have acted as I did - apparently, there are people out there who would opt to wait in a burning vehicle (I'm not one of them).  AAA took the destroyed vehicle to a shop and then took me home.

I was still in shock when it was pointed out to me that the outcome here could have been unthinkably worse, and it took some time for that to sink in. The situation was entirely out of my control, I was just driving the car normally when this all happened.  I tried to make sense of it all.

So I did what any normal person would do.

I got right back in the saddle.  I rented a new car the next morning, and tried again to take a drive to clear my mind, the only difference being that I had even more to think about.

I drove a couple of hours to a place I'd never been.  I met a couple of good friends in Santa Barbara and we got wasted on red wine, limoncello, and margaritas.  We went to a park and played in the most spectacular jungle gym I'd seen at any in my life (I'll never be too old for a playground...never!).  We went drunkenly shopping at Cost Plus where I decided that it was the right time to buy a welcome mat for my house in Philly.  We had delightfully boozy conversations about life.  It was completely random.  But it was everything.

To live in fear is to live half-heartedly.
Vivir con miedo es como vivir a medias.


  1. Whoa, close call! Glad your quick thinking saved you.

  2. JAMIE. Holy goodness. How does all this shit happen to you? So glad you're alright.