Scare Me Into Gratitude

by D.J. Paris on June 18, 2012

Every once in awhile a terrifying moment reminds me just how little control I have over my own life.

A recent few…

Today the wind was gusting (probably not a verb) so much near the lakefront in Chicago that I thought I was going to fall over on my bicycle.  I’ve ridden for three years to and from work and never experienced wind like this.  Now, if I fall, no big deal.  I won’t die.  But… I’m also carrying my six pound dog on my back in, uh, a backpack.  Didn’t need the work “back” in that sentence.  Too late!

Also, last week I was riding home along the beach and some doofus threw a football to his buddy who missed the catch (Ready for a shocker?  He was white.) and the ball bounced up onto the bike path.  This thing was whizzing by so quickly I had to duck and it barely missed me.  Would have taken me out for sure (and the dog).  How do I know this?  Because it took the dude out behind me.  I looked back a few seconds later and saw the cyclist completely down, his bike askew.  I started thinking about how I would have beaten those two teenagers senseless, right in front of their mothers.  I went into some pretty dark fantasies.  Instead of that I probably should have gone back and helped the guy.

Another scare from last week isn’t exciting to describe, but basically some bike douche (you know, the ones with the outfits) nearly ran into me.  I had to slam on my brakes.  I yelled, “Jesus!” because I was terrified.  Not in the, “Save me Jesus!” way, in the more fun way where you’re blaspheming.  It just came out naturally.

This cretin, who just kept riding, yelled something at me.  I think it was the f-word, but I couldn’t hear completely.  I nearly went after him, but again, I had the dog with me.  I just wanted to stick something in his spoke like that one guy in the movie Breaking Away.

Breaking Away

All I remember about this movie was that Dennis Quaid looked 37, yet he was playing a 19 year old.

In all three of these experiences, danger was the stimulus.  Fear was my reaction.  Also, having no control over Mother Nature, some loser biker, and some loser teenagers was really terrifying.

What it did was remind me to be more conscious of what I can control – my reactions.  When my mom thought she lost my cat last week while staying with me, and I found her hours later when I got home, I grabbed the cat and hugged her as if she had been resurrected by Dr. Frankestein (we all know he wasn’t the monster by now, yes?).  Even though she was just under the sofa the whole time.

So, I’m going to ask something of the universe.  Once every month shoot me over a terrifying experience.  It will keep me in gratitude.  Forget Oprah’s stupid daily lists.  A good scare does the same thing.

Okay, I’m waiting.  Wait.  Now I’m paranoid.  Crap.  This may have been a bad call.

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