Fragile flashes of life teaches lessons
I can't really say that my life flashed before my eyes because the incident happened behind me and occurred so quickly it was over before I realized the seriousness of the accident.
I am talking about the incident that occurred on the College of Eastern Utah campus last Wednesday when the large crane that was placing beams on the new administration building toppled, knocking down utility lines, trees, the fence and leaving the large crane on its side and remains of it arm across the street.
I had just left the BDAC where I completed my morning workout and was on my way to work. That particular morning I had to park on the other side of the LDS church located next to the college. When I left the gym that morning I didn't say good-bye to some of the other regulars, like I usually do, and that split second decision may have saved my life.
I drove around the corner onto 400 North, saw the crane carrying the large beam and even slowed down to admire the whole operation. In that split second I kicked myself for leaving my camera at work because I remember admiring the size of the crane and it intrigued me how it could function so well when lifting such a weight. The very next moment it toppled over spreading machinery throughout the block, only a few car lengths behind my car. Shaken, I drove to the office and over the next 24 hours I processed the incident over and over again in my mind.
Part of that process is the gratitude I felt for being alive and the realization how quickly life could change. I have worked at newspapers where freak accidents, such as falling rocks or falling trees have killed incident bystanders. So I suppose when its my time, its my time.
I have never been a paranoid or particularly fearful person. I still fly on airplanes, even knowing that some pilots may have been drinking and I still love driving long distances, even after hearing the startling statics of how many drivers are drunk or on drugs.
A few of the most fearful times in my life have come on outdoor adventures where I put myself in somewhat dangerous situations. I remember a year ago while climbing Mt. Rainier in Washington State, I became scared as I walked across a narrow snow ledge above a 4,000 foot crevasse, knowing full well that hundreds of people have died on that mountain doing the very same thing. At that moment, roped off in teams of five climbers, cold snow blowing in my face, high above the world, I realized the danger and really just wanted to get down to safety. I was very grateful for prayer that particular morning.
Another time, many years ago, while canoeing down the Missouri River I remember calmly paddling down the river when we hit a wild summer storm with lightning, high winds, and pouring rain. We struggled for nearly an hour trying to get to shore. I had my young sons with me and we were tired and scared as our canoes filled up with water. I tried to encourage the kids to hang in there, reminding them we'd be safe, when deep down I knew that at any second a lightning strike could have changed our family forever.
I have no real point to the incident that happened last week, other than to realize that life is very fragile and can be taken away as quickly as it can be given. I am off climbing another mountain in Montana today as you read this, having flown and driven several hundreds of miles.
Life is very precious and very short and I just want to enjoy the fullness of it while I am around to experience the many adventures.