I used to love to watch drag racing.
I particularly liked the “Jungle Jim” funny car. Blue Camaro. A colorful caveman cartoon. Good looking girl. Passionate fans. What more could a young guy want back then?
I imagined myself sitting on that starting line at the quarter mile drag strip waiting for that green light to flash on that “Christmas tree”. The car is shaking as the loud engine rumbles, waiting to unleash it’s power. Just as the green flashed and my foot mashes the accelerator, my body instantly jolts backward into the seat as the machine rockets down the track. The short intense focus of being on the edge seemed like it would be such a rush.
This day was just an ordinary morning driving to work. My commute would involve back roads and I would frequently stop at a particular traffic light. It was a perfect spot. Straight road. Very early in the morning. Not a lot of traffic.
It was here that I would fantasize about those drag racing memories. Sitting there at the red light, I would put my left foot on the brake and my right foot on the gas. I would wait eagerly for that green light. At that moment, I was no longer a business executive. I was racing. My livelihood depended upon my speed off the line; and I was not going to disappoint my fans.
I must of done this dozens of times. It was exhilarating, even if it only lasted a few short seconds.
But this morning was different.
As I sat there at the red light, my thoughts wandered. The light turned green, and I didn’t go.
I wasn’t paying attention.
Just at that moment, a white van came barreling through the intersection at high speed. He blatantly ran the red light as he crossed from my left to right.
That’s what snapped me out of it.
He probably would have hit me right in the drivers side door. A classic t-bone accident.
My life would have instantly changed. I may not have survived at all. All of the things I may have worried about previously would now seem trivial. Office politic worries and career aspirations would have instantly vanished. Would my family be ok? Did I do enough to help make the world a better place? That was it. I was out of time. It would have happened on a quiet weekday morning going to work.
Life can change dramatically at a moments notice. Fortunate and unfortunate things happen.
I really appreciate all of the fortunate things much more every day now and try to take nothing for granted.
I’m also much more careful at intersections.