Friday, August 17, 2007


It is a glorious fall day here. The sun is shining but the threat of summer heat no longer lives in its rays. 70*F (roughtly 21*C) a smattering of clouds and a cool breeze. A more perfect day could not be imagined. Well there is one ingredient I would add if I could....Nevertheless.

The kids and I went for a bike ride single file along a road out of town. We ride against on-coming traffic so we can see them coming and get over for them. I noticed my son's bike seat was turned slightly to the side and asked him if he had noticed. My daughter asked me to look at how loose her seat was and how she could swivel it to one side. He stopped to see for himself. She turned to see if I was noticing her seat.

What I saw I could not prevent. I saw her smashing into my son staring at his bicycle seat. I saw her wheel crash into his and throw her to into the ditch. I saw all the things that could have happened. Broken bleeding limbs. And me helpless to prevent it.

What is it about an imminent accident that slows time, heightens our awareness, that breaks me from myself so that I can watch what is happening, shout at myself to say something do something, anything to prevent it, and yet remain helpless behind it. Unmoving. Inactive.

And so, they picked themselves up, showed me their scrapes, and we turned and headed for home. They will not long think of this, except perhaps to remember that when you are behind, you must watch the front to see if it stops. And if you are the front, you must make sure the behind sees you stop.

But what of me? *sigh* It is the stuff of nightmares. To stand helplessly by while my children face danger and suffering unable to prevent it. The only comfort I can offer myself is that I am doing everything in my power to teach them to avoid what they can and face what they cannot.


Maggie Rosethorn said...

Accidents...yeah, I know the feeling. And the helplessness you feel when you can't protect your kids from injury, and the guilt you feel that they GOT hurt. Glad they weren't seriously injured.

Sean the Blogonaut F.C.D. said...

Time slowing is a result of adrenaline i think.

Christian said...

That first bit when they've just mastered the art of staying up but not the art of watching where they're going all the time wheel wobbling....heading straight for the pole.
It's an atrocious feeling! Gives me nightmares.
My poor mother!!
I'm glad they're OK Fiery

Fiery said...

I can still see the moment of impact in my mind, even the colors of their bikes as her front wheel bears down on the axle of his back wheel. I am very glad she tipped toward the ditch.

It seemed like I should have had time to prevent it, but what could I have said in the space of 1/2 a second that would have gotten through to my daughter to swerve in the right direction.

I'm just so darn glad that it was just a couple of minor scrapes- my son on the back of his right leg and my daughter on her stomach.

And Christian- what is it with poles that suck you in? Is it that when you are about to crash near one your eyes are drawn to them and your eyes being drawn the rest follow?

Note to self- if approaching the pole- LOOK AWAY!!!!!! Keep your eyes on where you want to be.

Jenny said...

I know you like to see the oncoming traffic, but if you're bicycling on the road itself, you are considered a vehicle and need to be on the right side of the road. Only as a pedestrian should you be on the other side.

Fiery said...

Then things have changed since I was growing up. The advice then was to travel against the flow. I see the laws have changed.

How awkward. You can't hear cars until they are upon you. shit. And the kids just discovered the joy of riding in the countryside.

Richard said...

Dear Fiery,

I could only skim the previous posts on the life after death BS. They were that revolting to me!

I could write long long comments on the irrationality of contradictions. Imagine, "life after death" or what you might be doing in "300 million years" when life rarely exceeds a century. What tripe.
What unmitigated lunacy. What is "life after death" but "up when you are going down", or "existence when there is none" or "having your cake and eating it too".

Bloody Hell... the Big Bang is no more rational than calculating the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin.

Reality just IS. We can see it and its there, so why make up things to explain it (God or Big Bangs are equivalent nonsense). The universe is outside of time and can have no beginning or end. Nor can it have a location. Since the Universe is everything there is, your every reference point has to be IN the Universe. It is a finite thing with no limit. (Infinity is purely, and nothing more than, a mathematical contrivance to deal with numerical sequences that have no apparent end.) The Universe is an absolute one cannot question, why make up nonsense to explain it?

Your lovely children are also an absolute. They exist, and they are paramount, to you in particular. They are your top values. They consume your focus.

Your "time slowing" experience is a function of your values. Your conscious mind is totally focused on the most important things in your life, and that means your kids. Any abnormal event stands out, starkly, as it unfolds. Every detail concerns you; every detail instantly goes to that large portion of your mind that is considering their every experience. As critical events transpire your mind must follow them. How could it be otherwise?

Seconds later, it has all been stored, and then you can look back at it. Its details are vivid because they are so fully and automatically stored. That is utterly normal and reasonable. The event is such a huge exception to your normal day to day valuing that it overwhelms all other thinking. In recall it takes on a 'reality' far beyond the usual. Given the values involved, how else could it possibly be?

Reality is, well, there. That's what your mind is for!

Our physicists are spending billions of taxpayers dollars to explain the universe as if it were something that appeared from nothing. Our religions guilt us into divorcing our conscious minds from reality. Together they unwittingly conspire to make us interpret such traumatic experiences as yours, as being something more than 'mere' reality. In fact it is a wonderful part of reality, the reality of how your mind functions. Reality is far more magical than any religious BS.

As for what you could do, it is just a matter of having the strength to change what you can change, and to accept what you cannot change (cliche I know).

Your kids are learning. That which they survive makes them stronger (cripes another cliche). It's an opportunity for them to learn, and for you to parent. Fabulous! There is no superpower meddling with things. To the extent that nature allows, YOU are in control. You are wonderful.

Darn glad the only consequences were scrapes and bruises. Physical pain is one kind of teacher, emotional pain is another... though the lessons of the latter are too often evaded.

[If that rambled, I apologize. It's too late to condense.]

Fiery said...

Richard, a delight as always!

I understand thoroughly the repugnance on the life after death stuff. E-gads do I. I actually spent 4 or 5 hours swimming in that crap. Reading it. Thinking about it. And then my poor mind needed a bath to get the filth out of it.

I actually had to concede and throw in the towel on his book. I couldn't actually bring myself to read the entire thing. Though really, once I had found that his first 2 chapters, (cosmology and evolution) that Cahill set up as his proofs, were absolute bunk, what was the point? He'd already lost me as an audience member.

I'm currently reading Christopher Hitchens "God is not Great". He has a rather odd style of writing. Interesting. But odd.

Poodles Rule said...

Glad the young ones are ok. Bikes must be from the devil.

Fiery said...

Thanks Poodles! Yes the little ankle biters are fine, in no time, they won't remember it at all. :-D Though hopefully the lesson of watch where you're going and watch out for those behind you will linger on.

King Aardvark said...

Hehe, something similar happened to me and my brother ages ago. My family was cycling in Ottawa (a great cycling city, btw). We had recently left the wonderful bike path system and entered the regular roadways. I was following a few meters behind my brother when he hit a pothole and went down in front of me. I tried to stop as quickly as a could but ended up running over his ankle (I stopped not two inches after running him over - and yes, I know I just mixed metric and imperial in this comment). Amazingly, he wasn't injured at all but he had a nice tire-tread pattern on his leg for a while.