“If a bridge must be burned leave nothing standing. Turn it to ash. Let the wind carry the remains away.” JSM

 

 

Chapter Nine

 

 

I’ve had multiple conversations recently with friends, coworkers and family and much of what we discuss is the overall pursuit of happiness. Doing what makes you happy.  Sure, we have our other conversations, but they always seem to veer into, “Are you still doing drawing, painting, yoga, music, meditating, writing, poetry, coding, funny movies or whatever?”

“Yes I am. I really enjoy it.  I haven’t been doing it long, but yeah.  It’s fun.”

“That’s what it’s all about.”

A friend showed me a picture on her phone of a new birdhouse she built and just beamed with pride at her first attempt to create something from nothing.

She tells me, “I’ve read articles online, magazines, watched the YouTube videos and always said I couldn’t do this. Then one day I went out, bought the materials, and did it.”

“I look forward to the next picture.”

Those who are close to me know I’m a bit of a hermit. I work nearby (Like… four hundred feet from my front door) and I enjoy being home. My routine is specific, I stay within a perimeter, I maintain a system and we travel out and about to other places when time is provided and the money is available.

Nancy works a second job five nights a week, and my kiddos aren’t always here. I’ve learned through the absence of others to appreciate myself. Learning to be alone and liking it for great chunks of time.

Yeah… I could walk or take a bike ride downtown, but I’m not big with crowds. I’ve come to enjoy my own company. At times, the only sound in the home is the furnace kicking on and off, birds chirping outside the window and the dog scuffling around upstairs.

I do see my buddies when possible and when our schedules match up, and we continue to have social time whether face to face or through messenger. I’m not saying I’m alone all the time. Just periods of time to include eight hours alone at work on most days.

I love all who reside with me and my home is an active home when it’s full, however, alone is how I spend a lot of my time. And you know what? That’s OK.  Sometimes within the absence of sound, it’s possible to find peace. Comfort within silence.

An uncomfortable silence? No.  Not so much.  More often than not an uncomfortable silence is called that for good reason.

Most of the remaining ride across the border to the Computer Seminar and convention center was in oppressive, uncomfortable, silence.

*****

 The caravan plowed through the gathering snow as if it wasn’t there. We’d be at our destination in no time. At the rate I was moving along before, in my now mangled car, it would have taken days to arrive.

At random intervals a traveler would try to spark up conversations or break the ice, but my replies were always quick and right to the point. I wasn’t in the mood for idle chit chat and kept my focus to the passing scenery out my window.

We stopped at a Tim Hortons, stretched, sipped coffee and made our way to a short stretch of highway that would take us the rest of the way to the end. All was going according to plan, despite the minor earlier inconvenience.

The blizzard raged on, the wind whipped up and the caravan was forced to slow down. Our vehicle now in the lead and the others not far behind.

Coming down the hill around a high right we noticed two vehicles creeping through the weather, fishtailing and skidding along the way. Once the lead car hit the middle of the hill, which connected to the flat stretch we were traveling along, it picked up speed, slid into the curve and pointed its nose and headlights straight at us. The following cross dialogue between the travelers within the SUV ensued.

“Is it gonna hit us?”

“Oh man, it’s gonna hit us!”

“Flash the high beams.”

“Breaks locked up, can’t stop! Can’t turn!”

“No, it’ll miss! It’s cutting to the side. No, no, I was wrong.”

“Why won’t they move?!”

“Get out of the way! Move!”

“Well… this is gonna hurt.”

“No. This isn’t happening!”

“Turn the wheel!”

“Oh no. Everyone brace for impact!”

“This thing have airbags?”

A head on collision was imminent and a traveler was correct. It did hurt.

I’ve been lucky. Never once broken a bone. I’ve only experienced a hairline fracture on a finger when a beam fell on it at work, some steel dust extracted from the eyes, and a couple of lacerations that needing mending, but nothing else physically. Bumps and bruises.  Many scary moments though, especially in the steel industry.

Tripped over my own feet once guiding a multi-ton I beam, which was wrapped up with a length of chain and driven into the building by a boom truck. Any motion will cause the heavy beam to swing. The truck moves at a snail pace.

Guiding the beam onto a tall pile, the vehicle drives onto a piece of debris and the action pulls the beam from my hand and I stumble forward. I lose my grip, trip over my boot and slip into the beam pile and the now swinging length of steel is moving and rotating around like a four thousand pound helicopter blade and all I can do is wait inside the safe space for it to come to a stop.

That was a fun experience.

I came to grips with the fact that a vehicle was about to collide into the SUV’s grill, at a speed that would do some heavy damage and potentially hurt someone.

I removed my glasses, placed them in my lap, and covered my arms over my face.

 

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