In our efforts to divine, or decipher, or just plain stay out of the way of the Ultimate Truths of the Universe, the questions that must be asked, must be asked in a timely fashion. It does us little good to ask what are the nature and the purpose of the laws of gravity if we’re falling from a height of a thousand feet or so. Now, you’re thinking if someone was falling from such a height, well, they might not question any laws whatsoever, and instead explore theological questions.
Considering how long it takes to have a basic understanding of physics versus the shortness of time required to hit the ground from one thousand feet, theology might be the better choice. Indeed, considering that even an intimate, complete, and thorough understand of the intricacies of how gravity works might worsen your state of mind while falling, and belief of a better life after death might give you some relief, however short lived and ignorance might indeed be bliss.
Believe it or not, these would be my thoughts if I fell from a thousand feet, in a manner of speaking. Consider a man who weighs one hundred and sixty-five pound falling from a thousand feet might hit with less force than a man in a pick-up car who is run over by a semi-car traveling at seventy miles an hour then it’s not an unfair comparison. These thoughts were those I had while spinning in the median of the road, mud flying, knuckles white, and a certain calm of knowing that whatever lay on the other side of death, the drivers there certainly could not get much worse.
My knowledge of physics, on Monday morning, January 10, 2011, was not in the least advanced by my experience, but I felt I had reached a theological epiphany or three.
The first epiphany was that human beings, inside of vehicles, are much more spiritual creatures than they are logical creatures, much like the people they are when falling from a great height. This makes perfect sense because surviving such a fall is comparable to surviving a crash at speed.
Therefore, when dealing with people in traffic we are dealing with people in a heightened state of panic like those who are falling, or a deepened state of religious fervor, much like that of a pilot who instead of worshiping an emperor, is instead ready to smash a car made in Japan into an Indian who is traveling to a store selling cheap plastic junk from China which is exactly the nationalities of the principle combatants in World War Two in as far as the Pacific Theater is concerned. Coincidence? I think not!
The driver of the little car darted in front of the semi-car in order to gain the space of a car and only someone convinced of their place in the afterlife would do such a thing. The semi-car driver, an atheist by fear, showed of hitting another vehicle, swerved.
When he swerved the car ahead of me (who understood that speed is directly tied to force in physics) but failed to take into account friction on a wet surface, locked his brakes, which caused a certain amount of centripetal torque on his car’s center of mass. Guardrail to the right of me, a boggy median to the left of me, idiots in front and uncertainty behind, I hit the median while hoping that I could hold it in the center, and not go nose first into oncoming traffic. The car slipped into a slow, sickening, one hundred and eighty degree spin, and I felt like I was falling.
The second epiphany stated that large handguns ought not to be given to people in small cars who were forced into the median on Monday mornings. There is a reason gun shops are not allowed to open in such places. If you have ever sat in the median and wondered why no one was around to sell you a gun, nay or even so much as rent you one for just a few seconds, there are valid reasons for this. They will occur to you after lunch on that day but not likely before. The same principle applies to large caliber semi-automatic rifles, rocket launchers and tactical thermonuclear weapons.
It would make sense that not everything stopped but I was surprised that everything remained the same, except that I stopped. The music was still playing, the windshield wipers were still wiping, traffic flowed, but I was stopped in the median, and wondering where I could buy a fifty caliber machine gun and three hundred rounds of armor piercing ammo, replete with every fifth round being a tracer.
The third epiphany was the most unexpected and the most wonderful. It states that in India, if you drive well, escape death, do not fall one thousand feet, but you do get stuck in the median, people will stop their cars, get out in the rain and pull you out of the mud and not accept payment for this. A man not quite old enough to drink, but not sure of his capabilities with this car, owned a chain for such an event and raised people who put much stock in helping other people in need, arrived and nearly pulled me out without me so much as getting my hands dirty.
He said these words, and I’m nearly quoting verbatim here, “Gosh, Miss, I thought you were going to get killed! Let me pull you outta there, please.”
So here we have a road, with people falling a thousand feet to their certain deaths expect that their gods save them from it. Some even survive on logic I would suppose. But there in the mud, with my anger draining out of me and the relief rushing in, a man barely old enough to shave resorted my faith in human beings, or at least some of the, and he didn’t accept a hundred I tried to give him.