If ever your the moments of your life lack meaning, take a moment to write down on a piece of paper all the times you almost died. Next time things get meaningless, pull out the piece of paper as a reminder.
In Heaven’s Waiting Room…
#6 Almost struck by lightening 6/21/06
He was out walking the dog on Wednesday 6/21/06, the summer solstice, around 9pm, near the lake at Independence Lake County Park near his home when a severe thunderstorm rolled in directly over him.
The terrain of Independence Lake closely resembles that of a golf-course…hilly highground plateaus interspersed with low flat areas, centered by a medium-sized lake.
He was on a flat area on the top of a hilly plateau when the first thunderclaps hit and not long after, a tall pine about hundred yards from me got roasted by a big lightening strike. Thereafter, there became nearly no discernable time elapsed between light and boom as the electrical storm really started. After a couple more close calls (strikes between 500 yards and a quarter-mile off), the strikes became almost indiscernably close…that is, the area around him directly was lighting up like someone was standing just a few feet off snapping a gigantic flash-camera. Of course by now it is also pouring down rain and he was drenched to the bone.
He took shelter near the doorway of the park ticket booth and gave serious thought to breaking in to take shelter from the lightening that was literally raining down around me with storm. He saw the hill top nearest the booth draw in a medium size lightening burst which didn’t connect, but lit up the area, and it was about this time he more or less made his peace with the lord.
(For those keeping track, I numbered this closecall “#6 ” for a reason. The Other Times I Almost Died and Cause, and yes this is a True Story. Close calls in automobiles, or that time that chick took the header off the Ann Street Parking Structure just moments before I walked around the corner this last summer (2005), not included. Other times I almost died which I didn’t know about (ignorance IS bliss, also not included.)
1. By Water. Drowning.(2x) Kensington Park “Martindale Beach’ 1980’s.Swam out too far. 1996 East Coast of Florida, Sebastian Inlet. Undertow.
2. By Asphiaxtion/suffocation. On one’s own vomit. 1990. Bad intersection with fifth of cheap whiskey from Your Better Market liquor store and underage drinking.
3.. By Firearm. Gun held to head in 1990 by thug at house party. Hostess usehered the assailant out before gun fired. Police called, report filed.
4. Alligator. Florida Everglades 1996. Put up pup tent too close to nest. Ranger woke him at midnight demanding he move it. He complied.
5. Hammerhead Shark. Florida again, 1996. Boogie-board surfing off Tigertail beach, ride big wave, land on beach, look back to see shark silloutette in wave directly behind the one he just rode in on. Also, could be included a third instance of ” Drowning” , as a huge squall rolled in right after this incident and nearly blew him off the peninsular jetty.
6. See Lightning, 6-21-06. Regards to Nabokov “picnic, lightening”.
III. “Some Say I Have A DeathWish, Some Say I’m Just Lucky.”
(For various reasons which I’d rather not go into here, except to say I presently have been moving towards a supreme exegesis with the hidden codes that heretofore have ruled my life from secret; and also at the same time have been upended in my coda by surprise ending, I must admit that I’ve been in a metaphysical mode, and in this mood as well to exorcise a peculair antic-ness which has gripped me of late, I undertook the usual night walk to seek the usual signs and also that usual complacency that the walk itself is only able to bestow.)
To die in the rain and storm by uncontrollable chance in the form of the voltage from an atmospheric phenonmenon, this would almost be a Classical end, a fitting end, and no guilt save the usual posthumous allotment from a little stupidity. But though I’ve done many stupid things in my life, I am not dumb, and in the earnestness that befits this look back at a brush with mortality averted, I can in all honesty assert I didn’t know the storm of 6/21/06 would roll up on me as I stood on that high hill plateau in the park near where I live.
There’s some tragic poetry in the crackling mess of the charged atmosphere; the sudden gist of the environs from green and verdant and sunlit in the twilight to stark grey,black, and white, lit only by the chiarscuro flash of electricity and the offstage rumble of tin and saws and big items crashing to the ground in the footers and rafters. A pastoral idyll as painted over by a German Expressionist. There’s some poetry there and worse ways to die and certain ones even more random but this, at least, would not be senseless, and at the same time, completely blameless. I’d get a newspaper article, at least, and perhaps, I thought dimly, as the first thunder rumbled as I ran past the stand of pine, perhaps i’d be one of those strange cases that was struck hard by lightenining and survived. Survived! Hopefully not rendered dumb, or scarred from head to toe with some awful scorching electrical burn; hopefully just picked up and shook hard by the hand of god and then released, like a June bug landed on one’s sweater but not in the flame of the citronella candle…like a guy in a comic story or like Frankenstein. It might further the exegesis of my own life, this getting struck by lightening, give me a new lease, as it were. This crossed my mind as I ran past the pine to the ticket booth where I began telling this story, it indeed crossed my mind that I might get struck by lightening and survive, and that is in fact might be a desirable outcome, yes, it crossed my mind, but mainly the fear rearing up in my heart was how much it would all probably hurt.