Cold Clarity


I well remember the day I realized I was a finite creature.

I was a late bloomer when it comes to this kind of understanding; I was 28. I did not have a car, but rode my bike everywhere. The route to work I preferred to ride was up over a big, steep hill. The ride down the other side was well worth the sweat to get to the top. I loved it. Downhill on a bike is like flying. If I had to work, I might as well have fun getting there!

When I started this job and when I moved to this area, summer reigned. Sunny days, warm evenings, lingering light. Great for biking. Then Fall hit and with it rain. No problem: rain pants & jacket kept me going.

Then came snow.

This too, I loved. I grew up in a warm climate. Snow in my own yard was a novelty. Biking in the snow was fun.


My come-to-Jesus moment approaches; I’m sure you can see it coming. I’m pedaling home from work. It’s daylight, which is unusual. I’ve just crested the top of the hill and am flying down the other side, gaining speed. There’s a stop sign at the bottom of the hill – a two-way stop as the cross street is a busy one and my route takes me down a side street. And I realize, maybe 1/3 of the way down, that I have no way of stopping. I’m flying on compact snow and ice! I have my feet down, sliding, and the brakes on, wheels sliding.

And I realize I could die. There are cars whizzing past at the bottom of the hill. Everything becomes crystal clear. I have only this time. This one life, right now, and passing quickly.

Somehow, somehow, there are no cars as I slide across the street. A brief break in the traffic saved my life. I come to a final, shaking halt. I see my life clearly.

I climb back onto the pedals and slowly ride home.

Everything changes.

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