Stuff happens. Stuff goes wrong. If it doesn’t, then something really is wrong. And when stuff goes wrong, sometimes we have to get as close to failing as we can possibly get to see the right course of action …
A number of years ago I was driving down a highway here in Vancouver with my girlfriend at the time. It’s a 4 lane highway and there’s the odd light-slash-intersection. As I was driving, a woman coming the other way decided to turn left in front of me.
She started to turn; she had all the time in the world. And then she just stopped. In my lane. She froze and I was barreling straight towards her.
And there was no way I could stop in time.
Every Second is a Lifetime
It’s amazing how time literally stops in situations like this. Or maybe we just speed up. But that’s a question better left to Einstein.
My girlfriend grabbed her seat and the door handle. She pushed hard against the floor with both feet and let loose a small whimpering shriek.
A single second lasted longer than any second should. It was agonizing to wait and see if this woman would go or not. She still had time to get out of the way. She still had time to go. Then another second ticked by.
And she didn’t.
With a heartbeat to spare, I swerved over to the other lane and blasted past her. And time started ticking again.
The Breaking Point
A piece of wood will bend before it breaks. Before it fails. That’s a good thing if you’re practicing archery. Not so good if you’re karate kicking planks. But lots of things bend before they break.
I didn’t know if the woman in the car parked in front of me on the highway would suddenly get “unstuck” and peel off. If she did, and I had already chosen to get in the other lane, I would have hit her. Or swerved one way then back again and probably violently out of control.
Stuff happens. And there’s always a breaking point. A point of no return. Sometimes you have seconds to make a life-changing decision. Sometimes you have a lifetime.
If you’re lucky, you have both.