Life comes at you pretty quick. Sometimes, the unexpected happens right before your eyes and you have to do a double-take, try to process what you just saw, and even ask for confirmation from someone else. And isn’t that when life becomes very clear? When nothing else matters and we are forced to cut through the noise and get to the heart of everything that matters? And the choices that we make have to be made in a split second? Those moments create adrenaline and a sense of chaos in a matter of seconds…and knowing what decision is the right one can change everything. But how do you know which one is the right one? You don’t…until you make it.
Life gets pretty noisy at times…when we are doing our best to get through one day just to get through to the next. We get caught up in moments that pass way too quickly and in a blink a year has gone by. How many of us have cruised through life at what most would consider a normal pace, and then suddenly, things change…immediately. All of a sudden, what we know is no longer what we claim to know. What we believe is lost to the unbelievable. The unforeseen circumstances that just came crashing into your life will leave wreckage and turmoil like never before. I know families that have suffered incredible loss and their new normal is how things have to be. When life gets this loud, we only can hear what was almost silent in the days before. But now it is loud and clear — when nothing else seems to matter. Being afraid does that to you.
Originally, I was going to write about something else for this post. But something that I will never forget changed all of that on Friday afternoon. As my youngest son and I headed home from a college visit, I noticed we were about 30 miles from home. As we merged back onto the interstate from the rest stop, I noticed a car driving erratically, drifting from the right lane, to across the shoulder, back over the straight line. A little north of where we were, four motorcyclists were killed by a drunk driver a few years back and I kept wondering if the person in this car was intoxicated or having a medical condition. The car had just left the same rest stop and I did not notice the driver prior to seeing this unusual behavior. Then, the driver slowed down and was now travelling at about 10 mph less than the posted speed limit. As I passed him, my son and I both noticed a gun in his right hand has he drove with left. I freaked out. That was not was I was expecting. So, as I continued to drive, I repeatedly asked my son, “Did that look like a gun to you?’ Every time, he said, “yes.” I remember looking at the barrel of the gun, not knowing whether his finger was or was not on the trigger. Then, I started thinking about the rest stop we both had just left, coupled with his driving, I began to wonder if he had just abducted someone from the rest stop and he was making them hide on the floor of the front seat or even in the back seat. My mind went wild. I can’t recall the last time I was so afraid — not knowing if someone else was in the car or not. But in order for me to do more, I needed to know more so that I could call 911. I slowed to 65 mph (posted speed limit is 70), but he wasn’t catching me. I was afraid he was noticing what I was doing to get his plates and make of his car to report to the authorities. As we traveled down the interstate, I wondered if anyone else had noticed his driving and if they had already called authorities. I just didn’t know if anyone else saw the gun. With my heat rate getting faster, knowing I couldn’t NOT do something, I slowed to 60 mph and hoped he would approach cautiously from behind. I told my son to get out his phone and to notice his license plate number and the make of his car. Once we had this information, I dialed 911. Having not been my first time calling 911 and having several friends who are dispatchers, I know what information they need to get law enforcement to our location as soon as possible. And the further we were from the original location and as we neared our home town, I was nervous about what I would do, should he take an exit that I didn’t and law enforcement wasn’t there yet. I was not willing to put myself or my son in any danger, but also felled compelled to protect whoever may be in that car.
As we were feet away from having to take an exit or head into town, the dispatcher asked me if I saw any law enforcement around and just as she said that, a state patrol officer flew past me. He must have been going about 100 mph or so. That might have kicked my adrenaline even higher. Even my son said didn’t see him either! But as he approached the “car in question”, he came up behind him and the car tried to quickly take the exit and then veered suddenly to stay on the same road. That’s when the trooper put on his lights to pull the car over.
As I headed more towards home, I tried to quickly come to grips with what just happened. My breathing slowed, my heart rate began to head back to normal. I have shared this story with a few people and each time I tell it, I can hear the adrenaline returning and it is as if I am back in those moments. I think about the consequences for the driver too. At least, the driver was going to get a ticket for reckless driving. Possible illegal possession of a gun. Maybe an abduction charge if they found someone in the car that was being held against their will. We will never know the real outcome of this story. Part of me wants to know how things turned out, but I know I never will. And maybe that is okay too.
So why do I share this with you? Because in an instant, things became very clear. Things that I never could have imagined…happened. Right before my eyes. There are moments in our lives that do not put our personal safety in jeopardy that make us pay attention, and yet we must pay attention. We are called to action. We must react. Not doing so is not an option. We are faced with a multitude of choices every day and choosing one over another will change everything the happens afterwards. And once we make those choices do the results of those choices become clear. Some we are glad we made while others cause irreversible regret that never goes away.
Are you listening to what life is saying to you? Life is crowded and there is a lot of noise in it. Everyone is busy with their lives and everything that goes with it and as much as we try, time never slows down. It must proceed ahead, at the rate is must, in order for it to move forward. We get caught up in the trivial things that when push comes to shove really don’t matter. Our focus only becomes a target when we have to shut everything else out. It is impossible to do it all, although I try.
What keeps you going? At the end of the day, are you exhausted from meaningful events or ones that you will forget tomorrow? Have you made a difference in someone else’s life or shared something with someone who you can never get back? How do you allow your heart to become silent? When are you at peace? Does life ever slow down for you or are you constantly in the fast lane, passing everyone you see?
Some things become very clear when that is all there is…when we are involuntarily required to listen….when affected by things outside of our own doing that still stay etched in our memories. When our breathing becomes less erratic and our heart rate begins to beat at a normal pace. Stop. Take a minute to gather your thoughts and let them become synced with your heart. Listen. Breath in. Breath out.
We became aware of what was happening and what needed to be done. What matters to you? Where do you want to be? How will you get there? Why does change scare you? I can only surmise and hope that when it is all said and done, that in those few miles, we were able to cut through the noise.
Michelle A. Homme 2014 ©