June 18, 2012 – A Good Day to Die?
The saying, “today is a good day to die,” has been attributed to Crazy Horse. The sentiment is consistent with my philosophy of yoga and meditation, which can be summed up by the famous Ram Dass book title: Be Here Now. We should live our lives full out in the moment, following our passions, because tomorrow is guaranteed to none of us.
So part of my current passion is bicycle commuting. I look forward to that hour of (mostly) easy riding in the morning and, the longer I do it consistently, the easier the ride becomes and the shorter it feels. I’ve added the half-trip home to the bus in the afternoon, so I get 15 miles of riding a day, avoid the worst hills, and don’t have to spend time stuck in traffic, stewing in my car. All good, right?
But today I had not one, but two, encounters with cars that made me wonder if this was going to be my good day to die. Yes, there could be far worse ways to go than a quick exit while riding one’s beloved bike. But I’m really hoping to live to be old enough for my daughter to be a fully independent adult, I’ve got a lot of writing still to do, and – well – bike vs car could also result in long term disability: not one of my life goals.
The climax of my trip to work is the speedy bike lane down the center of Pennsylvania Avenue, which starts at 15th Street. In the morning, the lights are timed just right so I can make it to my turn up 7th Street without a stop. I call it the autobahn of bike lanes. This morning, several blocks along the lane, a big black monster SUV traveling eastward, like me, decides to whip a U turn – completely illegal – across the double bike lane and is headed straight at me. Even in my eye-popping Bike to Work Day T-shirt, I never assume that a car actually sees me, so I slam on my brakes, wobbling on the wet pavement, managing to avoid a crash. Yeah, I called him an asshole. Not very yogic, I know. But the worst part was that he totally messed up my rhythm, and I caught nearly every red light the rest of the bike-o-bahn.
On the way home, I have to go through a few very trafficky blocks of Rosslyn to get to the bus stop. I have fully embraced taking the lane – because it’s the only way I can feel even a little bit safe. But this afternoon, a car going the wrong direction headed straight at me. I was not wearing a “today is a good day to die" T-shirt. It was an old guy with handicapped stickers on his car and, well, maybe it’s past time for him to give up the keys. Fortunately, he realized his mistake and headed toward the large median strip, which I assume he was going to rumble his way over. I didn’t stick around to watch. I continued to the bus stop, where – yay – my bus was waiting, and made it home, grateful that it wasn’t, after all, my day to die.