What?! Shouldn’t I be saying “BE careful because life is fleeting.”? NO. I said it right. DO NOT BE CAREFUL. I came to this realization yesterday doing my Saturday shuttle run for UPS, driving a giant, brown death-trap at 65mph from Gridley down to Sacramento. I’ve done it dozens of times before and there always seems to be some adventure to it, especially once I hit I-80. (Really people, I can’t see you and we drive as fast as everyone else so LET ME MERGE…but I digress). But yesterday the realization came to me that every week, for over 120 miles round-trip, I ride about twelve inches away from a catastrophic crash and likely death! What I’m referring to is that little lip between the shoulder and the highway. If those dual rear tires hit that, they tend to grab and pull you that way. Let’s just say that involuntary changes of direction at highway speeds in a UPS truck are not conducive to maintaining good health and a clean driving record. I was kind of surprised that my reaction to this cheerful epiphany was not a chill down my spine, but more of a thrill and a wry smile. You see, everyone knows all the cliches, everyone has heard “If Tomorrow Never Comes” by Garth Brooks. Carpe Diem, Vita Brevis, blah, blah, blah, yada yada, right? Well it may be cliche, but that doesn’t make it less true. I’m going to open up an old wound here and give you a story in the hopes that my pain may be your gain. If you’re uncomfortable with tough guys getting personal, feel free to bail out here.
My wife and I were together for thirteen years up until I felt that I had to leave in December 2013. Long story short, no cheating, no fighting, but life had just drug us down and pulled us apart. Then came the Parkinson’s diagnosis. What this allowed me to do was two things. One, it allowed me to be a martyr and supposedly free her from having to live with this. (I know, I’m an idiot sometimes.) Two, it allowed me to think that I deserved to be happier with each day I had left. (I know, I’m an asshole sometimes.) We did stay close, and are very good friends to this day, so when she had a chance to see someone new, she asked me about it. Let me correct that. She offered not to with obvious hope in her voice that I would say “No, don’t”. Thinking not of how miserable I was alone, but of how I wanted her to be happy again, I encouraged her. Truth be told, I pushed her to it. I was being careful. I didn’t want to try to work it out and have us end up hating each other or getting hurt. Over the next few weeks things started to change. We would have dinner and watch The Walking Dead together or our Mocha Fridays tradition. I realized that she was back to her old self and we had a chance again. But wait, I must be careful, I thought. I couldn’t risk getting her hopes up or getting myself back into our old situation. Looking back, I should have risked everything, because by the time I quit being careful and let myself offer to try again, I was too late. I had pushed too hard for too long and she had let someone else fill the void and heal the pain that I had caused.
So the lesson of the day is, DON’T BE CAREFUL. That white line on the highway runs right next to you every day whether you’re driving a delivery truck or reading some blog on a rainy Sunday afternoon, so you might as well step on the gas and enjoy the ride.