Monday evening, May 5th, was gorgeous. It was a perfect evening to go out for a ride on my motorcycle. So, naturally I did. There is nothing like it. I get a sense of complete freedom. There is the thrill of risking life and limb, but also a certain confidence in my ability to engage the risk with hyper awareness, reasonable caution, and a well maintained machine.
But nothing can protect one from the stupidity and carelessness of others. So on Monday evening, May 5th, 2015 it was my turn. It was my turn to have someone driving a full size truck casually turn left right in front of me like I wasn’t even there. But I showed him. I tore the side mirror off his truck with my rib cage when I slammed into it at thirty-five or so miles per hour. Over all the noise, I heard my ribs break. It felt like being kicked by a mule. And let me tell you, broken ribs are a gift that keeeeeep on giving.
This is what I wrote on May 19th when I got home from the hospital:
Hearing the impact
Feeling it inside
Laying in the street knowing
Fumbling to find my phone
Leaving a message I was in an accident, but I’m alright
Wanting to hide the truth from her for as long as I can because
Thinking about my kids
Thinking about my friends
Thinking about the many people that I love
Knowing that they love me back But,
Seeing my helmet lying in the street
Finding my cap and putting it on
Wishing I had brought my emergency pair of clean underwear
(I really have some, they come in a can)
Laughing because it hurts, and hurting lets me know
I didn’t die, even though I really thought I was going to. I broke six ribs down my left side, some bones in my left foot, and lost a chunk of meat from my left arm, but I’m still here. I was balled up in pain in the street moaning when he asked ‘You ok?’ I had to tell him to call for help. He apologized … Said he didn’t see me … that he was looking at some girl on the sidewalk.
Some friends showed up and called an ambulance. They ended up getting my bike to a safe place, and trailered it home later. One of them got ahold of Joy and went and got her and brought her to the hospital. Me … I got an ambulance ride to The Med. The evening ride didn’t turn out like I planned. It has dramatically altered my life for the short term and who knows about the long. I’m ten days into a six week to six month recovery, and it still hurts worse than anything I’ve ever done to me, and I’ve been busted up a lot to still be here.
I didn’t do anything wrong, wasn’t being a fool, was paying attention, and was riding slightly under the speed limit. I saw him in the turn lane. I saw when he started to turn. But there wasn’t a damn thing I could do. So, for me it boils down to, “how do I make any sense out of it?” and “why do I need to?”
I need to because it feels like I’ve been bitch-slapped by God. Don’t get me wrong, I love God. I give God the credit for anything good in my life, and for any real good that comes out of it. I believe in a creator God who designed a universe perfectly suitable for the flourishing of human beings who God created me in God’s image. I believe in a God who is love, and who desires individual relationships of love and trust with each of us.
But my experience is that God sometimes allows me to suffer the consequences of my choices, and I’m not talking about my choice to ride a motorcycle, in order to get my attention about the choices that I make. I don’t believe in a god so insecure that it needs to punish me for any choice I make. Like I said. I’ve busted myself up before, and I’m not blaming God for any of it.
But these near death experiences get me to thinking about the choices I make that don’t really hurt anybody (rationalization alert), aren’t against the law (mostly), and don’t seem to cause any problems in my life (the jury is still out on that one). I don’t feel particularly guilty about any of them. And don’t worry, this isn’t a detailed confessional.
But the truth is, I know many of the choices I make today do not reflect the Imago-Dei in me. And so, I still at times, give away the blessing of the richly abundant life I was created to live for a facsimile of life full of could have been, would have been, and should have been smacked down by god.