Yesterday (June 2) I woke up to read the news about a deadly bicycle verses car crash in Matamoros, Mexico. A drunk, sleepy driver plowed into a group of bicyclists who were participating in a 34-kilometer race, killing one and injuring at least 10 others, and someone actually took a picture at the moment of impact. Bicycles and young, healthy athletes are flying everywhere.
After taking a moment to reflect on the tragedy, I couldn’t help but also reflect on the suddenness of it. In one heartbeat, these people are enjoying a sunny spring day in northern Mexico, out for a competitive bike ride. They have planned, trained and lived for this moment for the last several days, weeks or months. And in the next heartbeat, they are colliding with a ton and a half of steel, glass and composites with enough kinetic energy to throw a dozen human bodies tens of feet into the air.
Life seems filled with sudden changes lately. Things that happen without apparent warning that change our lives unrecognizably. The empires fall, mountains explode, computers become central to our daily lives, a woman and a black man are serious contenders for the White House, the Century of the Automobile sputters to an end with unaffordable energy prices.
Some natural historians say that the world’s major changes happen slowly over unimaginable lengths of time. Some say they happen suddenly and episodically, citing violent upheavals that isolate populations and destroy others.
The other day, I was moving five-gallen bottles of water from the front porch to the kitchen. I had a firm grip on the bottle. I have done this task more times than I can remember without incident. Without any warning, the bottle slipped from my hands. It didn’t slide out of my hands. I didn’t slowly lose my grip. One moment, I was holding, the bottle, and the next I wasn’t. I still have no idea why it popped out of my hands, but my only thought after realizing that I was no longer holding 45 pounds of water was to get my feet out of the way.
Sometimes it seams like the best skill one can learn during a lifetime is knowing when to jump.