Wednesday, August 12, 2009

FOXOLOGY: Bless Your Brick Walls

Have You Run Into A Brick Wall?

Life happens and sometimes, without fair warning, we run into a brick wall. We fall down. We cry. We let our dreams die. Just recently I smacked right into one. However, this time I wasn't so startled or stymied. This time I was able to walk away from the situation without any serious damage, thinking maybe this "collision" was necessary. Maybe, just maybe, it was for the best.

That kind of wisdom has come with a price. A few months ago, something happened that really helped me to look at brick walls quite differently. Since then, I think that brick walls may not always be a bad thing.

I want to share the sequence of events leading up to my revelation, just in case you've run into a brick wall and you're struggling with the reasons, and wondering why. I know this will help you. Here's my story:

Needless to say, along with all the other November 4th-ers, I was pretty excited on election day when my presidential choice got the overwhelming vote into the highest office in the land. For me, it was cause for celebration for more reasons than one. It was my birthday.
My heart knew that the only other gift to give myself was to get to Washington D.C. for the inauguration, so I started planning. Most hotels in the D.C. area were already booked, so I ended up with reservations in a wonderful but distant hotel location in Baltimore, 45 minutes from the Capitol. That was not a problem for me since I'm sort of a "road dog", and I love long, scenic drives, especially in areas that I haven't traveled before.

I knew the airports would be chaotic during that time, so I decided to take to the road and make the 800-mile trek across the country from the Midwest to D.C. No problem. I've driven thousands of miles up and down the country. I love it.

I invited my 77 year-old God Mother, Lois McKee, to come along as my driving companion for the trip. It meant so much to take her with me to witness the inauguration. I usually travel the roads alone, it's all a part of the "taking it all in" while I'm driving thing. That usually works best for me. When I drive alone I can think, plan and process without interruptions. This was different though. She is very spirited and an absolute delight to be around. I knew that being a part of this historic event meant as much, if not more, to her as it did to me. I also knew she would sleep most of the trip.

We were both anxious and excited as the days got closer. We had planned our trip around events we would be able to attend and really looked forward to all of the hoopla ahead. I had actually gotten a ticket from my Senator's office for the inauguration, which, unfortunately meant absolutely nothing once I got into the press of the crowd that was as equally determined to see this historic happening. It was every man, or woman for themselves.

We left Chicago around eight in the morning on the Sunday before the inauguration, and had a smooth trip, arriving in Baltimore around eight that night. We ordered room service, chatted for a bit and went to bed. Rising early on Monday, we dashed into the D.C. area to attend Rev. Al Sharpton's Prayer Breakfast at the downtown Hyatt. We were running a little late and the program was well underway by the time we arrived, but because Mother and Rev. Al are long-time "buds" we got in and got seated pretty much right away. There were several dignitaries, celebrities and recognizable folks there. So very cool!

Right after that event, I did a casual two-hour "what's going on in D.C." radio update over the phone to report to anxious listeners back home on the extraordinary "feel" in that was in air. While I was on the phone, ABC's David Muir glanced over at me as he was passing by. I smiled and waved an excited "Hey, that's David Muir!" wave. He smiled and waved back. WOW! I'm thinking everybody is here. This was really something! The excitement, pride and awe was so thick, you would have to be dead to not sense the power of it. It was so easy to translate it over the air. It was simply one of the most amazing experiences to be a part of, without a doubt.

While I did the radio show, Mother went on to another event for the afternoon with some friends at the breakfast. We planned to meet up later, but I got really bad directions trying to find the location and got really lost. I literally spent several hours stuck in traffic, which had gotten very crazy and nearly impossible to maneuver through. At one point I was lost in a residential area, and stuck behind this limousine. I'm waiting...waiting...waiting...then Donna Brazile comes out of the house. I rolled down my window to say "hey" to her, introduced myself, and told her how much I had been enjoying her analyst dialogs on TV. She told me that she was actually on her way to do another CNN interview. I told her that I enjoyed meeting her, and she went on her way. I was so glad that I had not honked at her driver.

At this point I feel the day is going pretty well, inspite of the traffic drama. I finally found the location of the event that my Mother had attended. I swooped her up and headed to Howard University for another terrific rally. This one was hosted by CNN's Roland Martin, with more of Mother's "buds", Rev. Jesse Jackson and Dr. Cornell West, who were special guests along with Rev. Al, Donna Brazile, and another saavy female journalist with the Washington Post, whose name I don't recall right now.

Some parts of the forum were broadcast live on CNN, showcasing the many young people who were ecstatic over the ideas and dialog about their new President. I kept looking at Roland thinking " I know that guy from somewhere besides CNN..." Later it occurred to me that I really did know him and his wife, Jacquie. She and I were both at the same church for years. Unfortunately, by the time I had connected the dots on that, it was too late to say "Hey, I know you!" I was well on my way back to Baltimore for the night. It had been a great rally, and a great day, and I knew this was going to be a great trip.

Being so unfamiliar with the area, I did not find my way to the correct highway immediately. It took me about thirty minutes, but I finally saw a sign that promised it would take me to Baltimore. I eased on down the highway, intently watching for the Baltimore exit. When I saw it, I signaled to get into the entry lane, which was to my left. I sighed a sigh of relief knowing that I would be back at the hotel within the hour.

That sense of relief was short-lived. In a split second, a speeding car that was trying to NOT take the exit, attempted to cross over into my lane to his right, directly in front of me as I was crossing into the same lane from my left. To avoid a tragic collision, I swung right.

The oncoming traffic to my right was trying to swerve to avoid colliding with me. I swung left trying to dodge the stream of oncoming vehicles. I lost complete control of the car with that twist of the steering wheel. It was evening, and I all I can remember is the bright white of oncoming headlights as my vehicle spun around twice in the middle of the freeway. Feeling totally helpless, I began to pray out loud, knowing that there was no other way out of this. It was over. My mother chimed in. There we were, both asking earnestly for the only intervention that could possibly save us.

As the car skidded off the road, we were headed head-on into a brick wall, still moving at a high speed. In a flash I turned the steering wheel hard and fast to the left in an attempt to save our lives. Instead of a head-on impact, my car responded to my hard pull and collided with the wall on the rear driver-side. The bang into the wall was fierce sounding and abrupt. I remember watching us in what seemed like slow motion being thrown forward and then back into an upright seated position.

I waited for a few seconds, to see if I was alive. Or hurt. I looked over at Mother after I realized that I was still breathing, and asked her if she was O.K. What a terrible rumble for a 77 year-old! She said yes, and that she felt fine. We were wearing our seat belts, or else I am sure we would have suffered some physical trauma, or worse.

I told her that I was going to get out and check the car. It was smashed, but not nearly as bad as I had thought it would be. I got back in, and started my ignition. It started after a little "gurgle" and I accelerated slowly to see if I would be able to drive away or not. Within seconds, we were back on the road to Baltimore. Amazingly, neither of us was visibly shaken, even though I knew I needed to get somewhere and sit down. We had not eaten since breakfast so we were both ready to get quiet, comfortable and reflect.

When we got to Baltimore, we went to a restaurant across the street from the hotel for dinner, and discussed the incredible event that we had just experienced. We were both very thankful to be sitting there, feeling fine, and uninjured. It was a miracle.

Many times since, I have pondered that accident. As I mentioned earlier, I travel a lot in my truck, miles and miles across the country. I have never had an accident. I thought of all the bridges I've crossed, the mountains I've driven through, the beautiful steep valleys I always enjoyed looking at. I've thought of all of the places that vehicle could have skidded off the road with no brick wall to stop it. I thought of how, on that particular day, that brick wall was there, and that brick wall was a blessing.

I've thought about all the times in my life when I hit a "brick wall" and that maybe those were blessings, too. We may never know some of the difficult circumstances that may have finished us off or done us in, but because there was a brick wall there, it stopped us from facing some other tragic outcome.

Yes, life is so very interesting and thought-worthy. Things will happen without any warning, and I've learned that I don't have to fall, cry, or let my dreams die as a result. I was very fortunate that I was able to drive my vehicle all the way back home, just as I have been fortunate to keep on truckin' in spite of life's hard, abrupt collisions. I've come away from them ultimately feeling fine, and safe. I had gone to Washington D.C. to celebrate my birthday and our new President. As well, I came away celebrating a brick wall as a blessing.

S.R. F.

No comments:

Post a Comment