As I was walking to my car this morning, an SUV skidded out of control, slid through where I had just crossed the street, slid very quickly off the road and destroyed a street sign. I was unaware of the event until I heard skidding and a crash behind me. Turning around, noting the feigned sense of shame on the driver's face, frozen in the realization that a one or two second delay might have resulted in my death, a very strange thing happened: nothing.
In that moment, a moment so stereotypically connected with enlightenment and self-awareness, I merely paused and then moved on. As I continued on to my car, I thought about how such events play out in movies and wondered why I was being so blasé about the matter. If my life were a movie, this event could have been a nucleating point where I decide that life's too short to be sitting around and crank myself into high gear. I could run off, announce my undying love to the woman who has been set up through the movie as my perfect match and then live happily ever after; I could embark on some great adventure that has amusing trials and tribulations, eventually leading to further enlightenment; I could undertake that risky business plan that leads to incredible fortune; or, any of a handful of other cliché options. Rather than anything interesting, I got in my car and drove to school.
There are plenty of reasons why I might not be terribly struck by my near miss but only a few make any sense to me: perhaps such an event really isn't all that profound; maybe I'm sufficiently pleased with where my life is and where it's going to not want change; perhaps I don't have any goals, desires or aspirations that might drive me to care about my life enough to be shaken up; or, perhaps I'm sufficiently dissociated from risk to properly assign shock and fear to the situation. Between the grim, good and boring options, I haven't made much headway in ascertaining my actual stance; it may be a mix of some or all of them and there might be other options that haven't occurred to me.
Although I don't really seem to be taking anything more lasting and substantial than this blog post, it was an interesting experience to face my own mortality, if but for a moment. In spite of the interestingness of the experience, I'm glad that I'm not injured, hospitalized or dead and don't much want to suffer a repeat of this sort of incident.