Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Take the long way home
London, ON, October 2009
I took this photo tonight, as I slowly cycled my way home from an appearance on Rogers Television's Newsmakers Live. I was part of a panel of unbelievably cool people - a London Police Sergeant, a noted driving instructor, a Rogers product expert and, of course, host Bob Smith - discussing the new handsfree law (aka Bill 118) that went into effect in Ontario yesterday and essentially bans the use of conventional cell phone handsets while driving. It was an hour of live television that mattered, and I know it left viewers with something to ponder - which is why I love media as much as I do.
As I often do following a TV hit, I decompressed the experience in my mind, trying to learn and file away said learnings for next time. And for reasons that still make little sense so me, I felt a compelling need to stop my bike and take grainy, lousy pictures with my BlackBerry as I cycled through some of the dodgier streets in our burg. And because misery loves company, I felt similarly compelled to upload the results to Facebook (find me here) as I slowly moved across the map toward home.
It had been a particularly trying day - two of our kids were home sick, and Debbie ended up taking Zach to the hospital for a closer look at what may or may not have been pneumonia* - and I was feeling more than a bit pensive. So a bit of quiet time on a silent bike on a dark night was probably just what I needed.
Or so I convinced myself. My final picture was of a disturbing scene on a street barely five minutes from my house. An ambulance had stopped, lights flashing, in front of a 15-year-old Ford Crown Victoria. A black late-model Nissan Sentra was parked, hazards on, behind the stricken vehicle. As I passed this surreal scene, ambulance attendants were carefully removing the driver, an elderly man, from the driver's seat.
In the darkness, I heard a sob that will haunt me. It was guttural, almost animal-like in its tone and intensity. His wife, perhaps? I'll likely never know. I stood a respectful distance away, on the other side of the relatively busy four-lane road, and still that sound carried. I shuddered to think about what I was witnessing, whether another family was now going through what we had just experienced, whether the wave of loss would affect them as profoundly as it had affected us.
Suddenly my difficult day seemed so very trivial relative to what was unfolding in front of me. I felt I had no right to whine given whatever it was that had just befallen these complete strangers who I had randomly encountered on this night. My rather lame little pity party was over. I got back on the bike and finished the last two kilometres as quickly as my legs could manage. Prayers for this man and his family seemed so inadequate as I silently sliced through the night, but it was all I could manage.
Your turn: Cherishing what we have and not what we don't. Please discuss.
*He's home. On meds to clean up what the docs thought may have been a suspect streak on his lungs. Still his sweet self, thank G-d. The adventure continues...