This morning on my way to work I was almost in a very bad car accident. I was driving in the left lane on the interstate when a car veered into my lane. They obviously didn’t see me. They were inches away from hitting me, and I was going about 60 MPH. I went off into the grass on the left, but fearing I would flip my car I over corrected and got back on the road. But I lost control, and my car started turning… First left, then right, until finally I completely lost control of the car and started spinning. I spun completely around at least once, maybe twice. I just can’t remember. But I didn’t panic. My adrenaline kicked in and I simply tried to regain control of the car. When I finally did I was on the opposite side of the road, motionless, facing sideways.
My heart was pounding, I was breathing hard, and while I lost control of my car I never lost control of my thoughts. For some reason, I was more awake and alert than I’ve been in a long time. My adrenaline saved me.
I’ve been out of the news business for over four years, but it’s interesting how I don’t know how to operate in the business world. I’m still not accustomed to sitting in an office, working a 9 to 5 job. I’m used to that feeling of my adrenaline pumping, helping me to stay focused and alert in moments of crisis. While I was only an observer, my work as a television news videographer exposed me to a lot of similar scenarios. I was always there for the aftermath, but I witnessed some crazy stuff. And working in that business is extremely stressful. I know it’s not healthy, but I became an adrenaline junkie. I grew accustomed to that feeling of my heart pounding and my mind racing. For some reason, I could always focus better under stressful situations. So when this happened today, I didn’t panic. I was focused. In fact, I felt at peace. It was a reminder that control is an illusion. There are very few things we can really control.
In those few seconds my life could have been over. I say few seconds… I’ve been replaying the scene in my mind all day and it feels like an eternity. But in reality, it was probably about 10 seconds. Maybe less. I could have flipped my car and rolled over multiple times. I could have been rear-ended by an approaching car, or even worse, an eighteen wheeler. I could have panicked and lost even more control of my car.
But I didn’t. And there is nothing about that fact I can control. Nothing. In those moments my life was in God’s hands, and He spared me.
I could ask, “Why me and not others?” I have asked the same question many times as I’ve thought about all the tragedy I saw in the news business. I thought, “Why can I walk away from this, but not others?” But I’m not asking that question this time. I can’t explain why. I think I’m just grateful for life.
There have been a couple of times when I’ve felt this much danger. While covering Hurricane Katrina, my reporter and I turned down a deserted back street. We immediately felt that something wasn’t right. A few hundred yards in front of us a police officer was arguing with some residents who stayed behind, probably ordering them to evacuate. Something about it didn’t feel safe, so we quickly got out of there. And when I was in Russia in 2011… That was the same week that the Domodedevo Airport in Moscow was bombed. We had just passed through that exact area a few days before, and had stood in the blast zone for about an hour.
I’ve witnessed a lot of pain, heartache, destruction, chaos, and death. But today I was closer to death than I’ve ever been.
And I feel at peace. At least for now… Because I was reminded that control is just an illusion. That frees me from trying to control my life, and just enjoy it.