For nearly 14 years I’ve carried with me an aging reminder that there is value in striving for growth; growth in relationships, the workplace, my faith…and growth in myself.
Before your imagination runs wild I’ll tell you the item is just a bag, and not a particularly impressive one by the modern standards of bags. It’s rectangular and woven from a synthetic blend, with just three pockets with zippers (two outside, and the main one.)
I’ve carried in it my audio recording gear, books, snacks, and more, from Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, to a Ricola herb farm in the Alps, to many coffee shops (just regular coffee shops.)
When I received this bag from a week-long radio reporting seminar from The Poynter Institute, I didn’t realize the symbol it would become, and how much I’d appreciate it.
There is a split-second for your body to prepare for the trauma before the car slams into your left side, and a leisurely ride into work on a sunny day becomes an exhausting and painful day at the hospital.
Your fight-or-flight instinct is sparked by the adrenaline pumping through your vulnerable shell: your heart pounds; your muscles tense; your awareness is heightened, just as the worst of your situation becomes the prime object of your focus.
The hood of the car is, all at once, a white blur streaking toward you, and also a crystal clear threat to your existence.
As the collision strips from you the handlebars–and with them your ability to control your destination–you hold out your hands to catch yourself from a fall that you won’t be able to avoid.
It wasn’t until long after the car had passed, and I had escaped unscathed, that I realized I hadn’t panicked. I remember hearing once that traffic incidents often happen near home, probably because we let our guards down.
Maybe that was in the back of my mind as I rode my scooter, on my street, three houses from my home, and I saw the headlights veering toward me. Cars park along one side of my street, so it’s not unusual for a car to drift farther than necessary. I watched closely though, shifting closer to the sidewalk on my side of the street. The headlights kept coming. The speed was noticeable. I moved even farther to the sidewalk. Then the headlights swerved quickly toward me, then away, and the car passed.
I stopped, letting my scooter lean beneath me toward the sidewalk as I looked at the car, waiting for some sign that the driver was aware. It appeared to run a stop sign and hurry away. After continuing home, and taking stock of what had happened, I realized: I didn’t panic.
It may seem like a silly thing to think about, “did I, or didn’t I, panic, and why, or why not?” But I’m very aware of how much control over my reactions I do or don’t have in situations. As a radio host, I’ve been told I’m uncannily cool under pressure, under deadline, under the constraints of a clock. The fact about radio, though, is whether or not I hit a post (speak within my allotted time) or not, is not a life or death matter. Of course I have pride in my work, a deep work ethic, and a desire to do my best for my listeners, employer, and self.
Editor’s note: This is a post about projecting our own experiences, troubles, and musings on prose of all kinds, and how it relates to my times of spiritual renaissance.
With each breath the wheat stalks seemed to blur into golden oceans begging for navigation. Though I have sailed true blue water, these golden waves of grain could not be traversed by wind, but by will. My breathing and straining formed the cadence. My mind drifted in and out of the large and small problems of me.
The Chipman Trail connects Moscow, Idaho with Pullman, Washington—two university towns in the agriculture-rich Palouse region. Chipman is a smoothly paved pathway for bicycles and runners traveling between the towns, running parallel to the highway. Despite traffic nearby, the grain, barns, bridges, and animals give a uniquely American impression: that space is wide-open, and nature can still seem unlimited.
Transition often brings reflection. In relationships, career, life in general, change always brings an unsure, but steady, tone to our worlds–to the personal universes we live in. The seasons are a perfect representation of a world in flux, and for me always bring yet another hushed moment to ruminate and muse.
With this Spring I will have experienced all 4 seasons in Europe. That seen only on a calendar means little…but in reality, I consider it a feat worth noting.