Saturday, August 7, 2010

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

Last night, I was hit by a car. Or rather, I collided, front-wheel first on my ramshackle bicycle, into the side of a moving car. I was moving fast, but I was lucky. (I wasn't wearing a helmet. I will always wear one from now on.) If I had been going faster, the car would have collided, front-bumper first, into the side of me. I'm not sure whose fault it was. Maybe I shouldn't have been going so fast. Perhaps the car should have stopped before crossing straight through the bike lane I was easily gliding down.

If my brakes were better, maybe I would have missed the car--swerved behind it or stopped abruptly before it. But my brakes were not better. As I smashed straight into the side of the back door, I was propelled off my bike, landing on my tailbone in the middle of the road. The driver pulled over to see if I was in good enough shape to continue on my way. I told him I was, and with the help of a friend who had been biking behind me--and who happened to have been an EMT--I walked away without, I think, having broken anything.

Today my hip hurts and I'm limping a bit. But it didn't prevent me from taking a walk (or a limping jaunt) in the park down the street from my apartment. As I made my way to the park--stopping at red lights, looking both ways, and then looking both ways again--I felt more vulnerable. It's not that I feared getting hit again, but I wondered what it would take to not get hit again.

How much caution is enough caution? How cautious do I want to be? For the second or so I lay suspended in the air last night--my body completely subservient to the whims of the collision--I don't remember having any profound thoughts about the brevity of life, regrets about unfinished business. Sure, I have regrets. I think life is brief. But when I sat up after landing on the concrete, I first wondered if my new Ray-Bans, which had been in my breast pocket, survived the crash. They did.

I wore them today in the park as I sat in a spot of sun listening to an accordionist play a sad, slow waltz. The accordion bellowed and sighed with the man's arms as the tips of his fingers moved assiduously along the bass buttons. I tossed a dollar coin into his case as he concluded the song, and I walked back home.

My hip hurt a little more from the walk and I lay down on my bed to listen to some more music. I first put on Albert Ayler playing the beautiful spiritual, "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot." It might say more than I can about the last 24 hours:

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

(Albert Ayler)

1 comment:

  1. jeez matt! wear your helmet & take an advil. it's a strange feeling to fly in the air after being hit. lets hope you never feel it again.
    (nice rendition of swing low sweet chariot)