June 30, 2010

Disjointed Thoughts on a Theme

Besides sleeping, reading, blowing my nose, and making requests for glasses of water from my family, my main occupation when down with the flu is watching movies. I was ill last week and actually enjoyed the chance to gear down to the minimum speed required to do not much of anything for a few days. I haven't had that kind of break for quite a while.

A couple of evenings ago, feeling fairly recovered, but still in movie mode I disappeared downstairs to my bedroom to watch a film I saw years ago, but always wanted to watch again. Love Actually is one of those films that is actually several short films, shown in pieces, and all on the theme of love during the weeks leading up to Christmas in London (yes, I'm aware it is still June). It is chock-a-block full of fantastic actors and genuinely funny and/or hearwrenching scenes of what one of the young characters calls 'the total agony of love'. I thoroughly enjoyed this re-viewing while various family members watched Indiana Jones do his thing upstairs on the bigger tv.

This morning, I started thinking about movies and books on the theme of love, and wondered why the human race continues to love stories about love. We root for love to conquer all, for the characters who can't seem to get past their first impressions to finally figure things out, or for the true colours of the romantic underdog to be revealed to the heroine. When love triumphs, we celebrate, and when love is taken over by less honorable states of mind, we sorrow. I think that love is such a universal thing that when it wins we feel like we win also. Sometimes, it is really the only thing we get right on this earth, and as the narrator says at the beginning of the movie, love actually is all around us.

Then again, so is fear and foolishness. Just as most of us triumph in love to some degree, most of us falter in fear or foolishness to some degree. I thought I was ready to face a shopping trip to the city yesterday, only I wasn't. I was still very tired and a bit foggy with my cold-in-the-head but the fridge was nearly empty and I had supplies to buy for my upcoming event. My daughter, Emma and I set off in the mid-morning to face the summer traffic. Even as I pulled into the parking lot of my first stop, I knew I should not have attempted the shopping, but I gave myself a pep talk and off we went. After one mall, we had to drive to another, and after that to the office supply store. I pulled into the turning lane in the worst intersection in this particular suburban city. I looked all around and then focussed my energies on timing my entry into the turn. I was just starting to pull slowly into the turn, looking mainly to the left into the oncoming traffic when I felt a rubbing sensation on the front bumper. I looked up and there he was, a young teenager on a bike, wearing a baseball cap and the everpresent earphones of that agegroup. I put on the brakes and within seconds the lad was free of my bumper (his pedal was stuck in the hole I found later that he had punctured in my bumper) and riding off across the intersection. He wasn't injured, hadn't been knocked off his bike at all. He didn't even look back. I, on the other hand made a tight turn into a fast food restaurant parking lot, lept out of the car and started making my way toward him to make sure he was okay (and perhaps to lecture him on the foolishness of jumping out in front of cars in the middle of the turning lane of a busy intersection) but it was too late. He was gone.

I got back into my car, and tried to collect myself, wondering how such a thing could have happened. I asked my daughter to tell me what she saw. "Well, Mom, all I saw was this kid playing with his ipod on the curb - then he jumped right in front of you without even looking."

"Was it my fault at all?" I asked.

"If you had twelve eyes, it might have been your fault," she said with typical Emma practicality. I was not convinced, in typical Rebecca self-doubt.

By the time we got to the office supply store I was feeling my shock and started to cry a little. Scenes of what 'might have happened' were filling my head. What if I had been going faster? What if the boy had been knocked off his bike and sent flying onto his un-helmeted head? What if his parents sued me? What if my license were taken away? What was I doing driving anyway - I was obviously a terrible driver to have let this kind of thing happen. The fact that the boy was not at all visibly shaken by what had occurred, however, enabled me to keep my nerves at bay enough to finish my shopping and get home as quickly as possible.

I found myself telling my tale to five or six people over the course of the day, and I found much comfort in the fact that they all had a similar story to tell. At least two friends admitted they felt they were taking their life in their hands every time they attempted a journey into traffic. One friend even said what I have often thought myself (thinking I was the only one), that more than once, when back home after a trip to the city she had sunk into a chair gratefully saying to herself, "I made it home one more day." The truth is, none of us has control over everything that goes on around us, even when we are being as careful and aware as we possibly can. Yesterday, that fact scared the heck out of me. I felt like I never wanted to get behind the wheel again. This morning, however, after a decent night's sleep, and the encouragement I found in sharing stories with others, I was okay with driving, just a little more aware of the tenuous nature of life.


  1. There are times when Love is a triumph of hope over experience.

    Glad you are better.

    Oh, I'm un-married a condition that very nearly changed a few times. But by way of the first comment.

  2. I am absolutely shocked by this post!

    A teenage daughter actually on Mom's side???

    Get that in a diary now - it may never happen again.

    Glad you are ok.


  3. Oh my! How terrible. That boy is going to get himself killed and not even be around to know what a stupid idiot he was being when it happened.

  4. Hello friends. I know this wasn't my best blog post ever, but somehow I just had to vent. Thanks for listening (reading) and commenting!

    Vince: You are right about that. I think marriage could well come under that heading :)

    Al: Well, I suppose this blog is a diary of sorts. Will that do? Hope you've recovered from your shock - my Emma is a reasonable girl, though she did tell her dad, in typical teenage fashion that I was 'totally freaking out' and she was 'kind of embarrassed'.

    Tracey: There are an awful lot of kids like him around here - and it's a problem because this area used to be so rural and is becoming increasingly citified, but the population doesn't really see it that way, so they lack city street smarts.

  5. Your bike story echoes what I have been thinking lately. I love to bike but consider myself more and more vulnerable on it. It just takes one careless act on the part of a driver (or biker) and mortal injuries could result. I can see why you were so worked up after the incident.

  6. Hi Paul: I am a pedestrian or cyclist 95% of the time, so I can really identify with both sides of the issue. We've also had some terrible (and fatal) accidents around here in the last couple of years and that makes everyone a bit jumpy. I just wish it translated to better driving/cycling/awareness.

  7. too many times people are so focused on what they are doing and/or listening to they forget anything else is going on around them. (a very dangerous thing when you are on the road in any form)

    i'm sure someone else has already said this, i think the cyclist knew he was at fault or he'd not have left you there to wonder...

    hugs to you - huge ones.

  8. E.P. Yes! That's why they have banned cell phone use while driving here, but lots of people just keep on talking away. And I did think that, too, about the cyclist.
    Thanks for the huge cyber hugs - very kind :)

  9. LOL, at least my hubris about nailing theses to walls or doors is matched by your attempt to skywrite. :-D

  10. And I don't have any idea how to address your Canada day.

  11. Vince: I just thought I would let some summer breezes in to my blog through this 'picture window' template :)
    The Federal Dominion of Canada was formed on July 1, 1867 out of four seperate British Colonies in Eastern Canada. Basically the idea of a unified coast to coast nation, aided largely by the building of the railway was born. Vancouver Island joined 'Confederation' in 1866, But the rest of BC did not join until 1871. So you might just say, "Happy Birthday Big Fella!"

  12. Happy belated Canada Day! Moments like that do tend to blaringly remind us that life is fragile, not to be taken for granted but appreciated and enjoyed - and the same can be said for love. I hope you are well recovered!


I'd love to hear your thoughts. Thanks!