Life itself can be about a fraction of a second. Nothing else is like that. Often there are no second chances – but sometimes you are lucky enough to catch a break.
Last summer, I had one of one those fraction-of-a-seconds. I was leaving a safe bicycle path in Montreal heading to where I was staying. I only had three blocks of a busy street to ride before arriving safely, as I have done so many times before.
I am always cautious and stop at all the red lights on Peel Street, south of downtown. I prefer bicycle paths and avoid street traffic whenever possible. I am careful because I am aware of the chance that some idiot motorist coming out of nowhere might turn my lights out.
There is a series of traffic lights on Peel. At a green light on that super nice summer day, I rode through the intersection when an old blue van barrelled through making a wicked out-of-control left turn to beat the coming traffic.
In that moment, I was mentally paralyzed. Everything seemed to stop as I braced myself to be hit by the oncoming van. I remember thinking the van was going so fast the impact was going to be really ugly. In that flash of fear, I saw myself haplessly flying through the air.
It seemed like a fraction of a second when the driver slammed on his brakes and the van jerked to a stop just a few centimetres from me. I was all shook up as the apologetic driver said he was sorry he didn’t see me.
For weeks, I couldn’t get that too-close-a-call out of my mind. I thought about it during the day and it haunted me at night. Until now, I couldn’t talk about that second I got my life back in one piece.
Now, approaching a year later, I can say I am more appreciative of life than ever before. I now realize every day is another day I might not otherwise have had. In a spiritual way, I believe my name just wasn’t inscribed for the year 5775, and I happily go on.
I have often heard about potential near-death experiences changing people. Well, I sure see myself differently. I see the world differently and I try hard to be more optimistic and more hopeful.
I think about the terrible situation the world finds itself in, but I remind myself that, while the world has always had problems and dark moments, it has always managed to find a way out of trouble – so it could forever blunder again.
I look at our global leadership and shudder at the thought Donald Trump might actually become leader of the free world. As much as I continue to think it won’t happen, I know it conceivably could. Somehow, though, I think the world would survive even that.
I look at Israel and know trouble is brewing in so many places from so many enemies and ask how could anyone be optimistic? But, optimism inspired the dream of Israel and the birth of the State of Israel. There remains no shortage of optimism, or brains, or determination. What really irks its detractors is how Israel thrives despite every obstacle thrown its way.
In Canada, we have a new generation of leaders. Whether or not we agree with the new government’s policies, we can be proud of a generational change so seamlessly and effectively accomplished. For those of my generation, our children are beginning to run things. Isn’t that how it should be?
What is amazing talking about politics is how Justin Trudeau and Trump come from such completely different ideological places. What they share, though, is more than a twinge of reality TV about them. It has been an incredible time of unprecedented political theatre on both sides of the border.
As someone who has long followed politics, I am fascinated by what has happened in just eight months. Every day is an adventure as challenges, and change, keep pounding away at all of us. For me, it is simple. I have the opportunity to witness it and enjoy it.
In the physical world, a few measly centimetres made the difference. I am so thankful for everything.