This morning, I woke up for my 10:45 class in a hurry. My mother had a client coming over soon and I had to be out of the house. I hurriedly started making breakfast before they arrived—an egg-salad sandwich, an unusual choice of breakfast that was to start off a truly unusual day.
I left my house with 20 minutes to arrive on time, however, it was a 25-minute bike ride to school. I started gaining momentum as I sent myself downhill to begin my bike ride. As the wind brushed up against my face, I felt like a man on a mission who was not going to stop at anything to arrive on time—going steadfast and nobly until I arrived at my destination. I felt invincible. Nothing mattered more than arriving to my first class on time. Oh! How wrong and delusional I was!
Having nailed half of the ride in a very short amount of time, I was actually on the path to success, I would indeed arrive on time at this pace. It was a beautiful day. I was on rue Victoria and Lacombe and had blasted through a couple stop signs in a row as there were no cars in sight. As I said, I was invincible. Then as I sped through the street, I noticed a car to the right side of my periphery approaching me. I assumed that it was to stop and that I would whizz by it and be on my way. Nothing dangerous or tragic could ever happen to me! To others? Perhaps occasionally. But these were the truths of fables and myths that, in my arrogance, I assumed I was exempt from.
Suddenly, I realized that this car and I were in a perpendicular collision. The car hit the side of my bike and I flew into the air, flinging my arms out wide as they smashed against the ground with my legs following soon after. How simultaneously ephemeral and timeless that moment was as I was suspended in the air with my fate uncertain and my mind bewildered.
It all happened so fast. Just as soon as I landed on the ground, I stood up off it. There was no reason to search for injury; The world waits for no one, not for a bruise, a broken bone or even someone who’s psyche was muddled by a potentially fatal event. A man and his wife, perhaps of Filipino descent, were inside of the car. Immediately a woman got out of the car asking if I was alright. I looked around at my body, felt my limbs and assessed for pain, and replied “Yes I’m okay. That was my fault, I was responsible. I’ve learned my lesson and realize that was one of the dumbest things I’ve ever done in my life. I won’t call the police”. She asked if the bike was okay, and I assured her that there were no damages apart from the chain falling off. She approached me even closer, put both of her arms around my shoulder, and said “may the blood of Christ protect this young man on his journey, and may he be offered a safe passage through the world”. I said thank you—and I meant it.
She got back in the car and they slowly pulled off. I fixed my chain and kept going, shaken up yet happy and gracious beyond belief that I survived this major collision unscathed. This was the closest thing to a miracle I’d ever experienced. I left the situation with simply a sore hand and a small gouge on the underside of my right leg.
I arrived at Loyola Campus three minutes late for my course. I locked up my bike, walked up to my class, arrived at the door, and alas! The room was empty. Looking at my schedule I realized that the course was an hour later than I had previously thought. Ridiculed by the universe, I started laughing hysterically. What a joke! What a great comedic game that the universe orchestrates—these forces above me, the gods of old, who had been betrayed by the rise of monotheism, were revived and active forces in my psyche! I then realized that my priorities had been gravely mistaken. Why had I felt that the approval of my teachers and classmates trumped my own safety? Upon arrival to the empty classroom, my actions were put in perspective.
As I walked through the hallways of the school, I overheard ongoing classes. I listened in to teachers speaking with passion and conviction. As I glanced into the classroom windows, I was fascinated by the sites I saw, and I was grateful for it all. I was grateful for all the opportunities I had to learn in such an environment! As I passed a classroom learning mathematics, the words “S squared” made me thankful that people showed passion and interest for this subject and for understanding the innermost workings of the universe.
I went outside and sat on a bench, looking at the passing people around me walking to their classes—all with a place to go. For everything, small and large, I felt appreciative and accepting—grateful that things exist as they are. I like to think that what I experienced that day was some sort of trial lesson; The fates granting me an opportunity to change my ways. They say that cats have nine lives. Maybe humans have three, and I have one remaining. How I lost the first one? That’s for another time.
By Rupert Mackie