Accident

By Gene Thompson

I had always felt there was more to life and understanding than I had been taught, but it took more than a feeling to change the course of my life and turn me into a seeker.

Bob was giving me a ride in his new toy, a brand new Corvette. There had been an opportunity to get away from work that day and go to an engineering conference at my old university. I would, of course, get to party with all of my old school chums. The road was straight and dry but there had been a light dusting of snow that had blown off the road and was sitting on the shoulder, It was dusk, but you could still see for miles across the barren wintery South Dakota countryside.

We were speeding along when we met a police car. “He’ll never catch me” Bob blurted out as the peddle went to the floor. The Vette came to life like a race horse leaving the gate. I watched the  needle on the speedometer quickly go over 100 MPH as we sped along. There was little traffic so Bob didn’t even slow down when we cane up behind another car.

We went past it like it was standing still, but Bob overshot our lane a little as we pulled back in, and the wide racing tires on the right side of the car got caught in the small ridge of snow on the shoulder. We were still going straight down the road, but the drag on the right side of the car prevented Bob from steering back onto the pavement.

Then there was the bridge. It had concrete sides that had not been widened when the road had been redone. Bob had little choice really, we could hit a concrete abutment head on or take the ditch.  He turned the wheels to the right and the car left the road and started its trip across a shallow ravine and I had my first experience with something outside of reality as I knew it.

Time slowed as I watched and felt us sailing through the air to an unavoidably abrupt stop on the other side of the gully. At the same time, my life flashed before me like a motion picture at high speed. Every thing I had done, every thing that had happened to me, even every thing I knew, was laid out in front of me as a collection of images and feelings. I could see my life as a whole insead of as a series of events. My view was very objective, like a judge or a movie critic. I didn’t like what I saw. Not that it was necessarily bad, it was just incomplete and not very interesting.

The Vette nosed into the bank with a thunderous crack as most of the fiberglass body broke off. There was pain, darkness, and disorientation as I was rolling around inside the car as it was  flipping over and over. When we hit again it was a clean landing. The car landed flat on it’s top and dug into the heavy snow in the ditch, There was a deafening silence as I laid there for a moment trying to figure out what  had happened. I called out “Bob! Are you all right?” It was a great relief to hear him respond “yea, but I think my arm is broken”.

It turned out that Bob had multiple bruises but no broken bones. I however, had two crushed vertebrae in my back, would wear a back brace for months and would be in pain for several years. The police, doctors and spectators believed it was a miracle that we were alive at all. The real miracle of course was a change in my state of consciousness. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, my life was to become much more interesting and rewarding.

Time for a Change