Seriously! My friend Dennis saved my life.
Dennis and I pulled out of the parking garage at the Triad Centers onto 3rd West Friday after our EMBA classes. He was maybe a hundred feet in front of me when he pulled up to a stop light in the North bound lane. By the time I pulled up next to him, the light was just about ready to turn green. Just like the football star on 'Remember the Titans' who's looking over at his friends when he gets smashed by a car from the crossing lane, I didn't wait to see if the way was clear as I accelerated quickly into the intersection.
The next few things happened almost instantaneously, but I remember them as though they were in slow motion. First, I thought it odd that Dennis didn't keep driving next to me. I wondered if my car just accelerated that much faster than his. For some reason, I felt that maybe something was wrong. Even so, I determined to continue forward, accelerating as quickly as I had started. Next, I heard a loud honk from Dennis' car, which was still parked car at the green light.
At this point, I had about a thousand thoughts in a split second. Was something wrong with his car, and he needed me to help? Was he honking out of jealousy that my car accelerated so much faster than his? Do Volkswagens have a naturally 'strong' horn sound. . . cuz, man that was a powerful honk?
Regardless of the thoughts, there was a feeling of immanent danger that came with the honk. Rather than consider the questions or thoughts swirling around in my head, I chose to follow the prompting to STOP that I felt in my heart. I slammed on my breaks. My first thought was to be proud of my car that had accelerated quickly enough to literally have to 'screech' to a stop after accelerating such a short time. My second thought was: "Holy cow; I could have just died!" as a large BMW came flying through the intersection about a foot in front of my bumper at what had to be about 50 miles per hour.
Like I said, it all happened in a matter of very short moments. I didn't see the car coming--not even in my periphery--until he was already passing through the place I would have been, had I not stopped immediately.
After the incident, Dennis and I pulled on through the intersection and to the side of the road where I parked my car and went to up to Dennis to tell him how grateful I was for the warning. He said I looked quite shaken up--which was a very accurate assessment of my condition.
I have a couple thoughts regarding the whole episode.
First, I'm glad to be alive. With the speed of the passing car that had come from my driver side, I most certainly would have been seriously injured--or worse.
Second, was it something more than the honking of my friend's horn that made me stop? I reacted immediately, with great urgency. It's not like me. My more natural response would have been to look around to see what was going on--or at least to check my rearview mirror before slamming on the breaks as hard as I did. But, no. My reaction was with absolute haste and urgency. I used the word 'prompted' earlier. I believe this was the right word. I think a certain spirit of warning attended my actions that night--for which I am extremely grateful.
Finally, what a joy it is to have great friends. Both literally and metaphorically, good friends can be a powerful source of protection in our lives. They can see important things to which we, ourselves, may not be giving adequate heed. They can warn of pending danger in a way that is truly helpful at a very personal level. Likewise, less savvy friends might miss such opportunities to warn--or worse, may lead us directly into the path of danger.
That night I learned a few great lessons which I hope to always remember. First, choose and keep great friends. Second, always heed a warning spirit (or intuitive cognitive response--as it may be termed by less spiritual intellectuals). Finally, live! What a fragile, fleeting moment is this life. It can end at any moment. Have I done all I should to this point? Am I doing all I should in this moment? Is what I am doing now something that will be remembered well by the ones I love? I hope I'm living the right life.
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