I ducked into the seclusion of oak and pine trees and followed a path to a series of hidden falls spilling through a granite canyon. Crossing a water worn bridge, I stepped out on an expanse of smooth rock overlooking a valley below. The sky was sierra blue with great white creature clouds racing eastward.
The pounding water of the falls, mingled with the sounds of the wind in the trees comforted me as I settled on the rock and pulled a new journal from my backpack; one not disfigured from the car accident that nearly took my life. Its fresh unmarred pages lifted my spirits. I reached back in for my fountain pen and thought of all that I had lost. I wrote, “after the rage and pain of these last few weeks I must rest. I am brought to my knees to face my disillusionment. There is sadness in releasing the expectations and hopes for I think much of my faith was based on illusion. So, I question if I really ever had faith. Or maybe it is that faith has been tested.” A lone turkey vulture rode the warm air currents.
I looked up from my writing and rested my gaze on vulture’s flight. It brought a sense of calm. Long ago I had been attracted by the grace of this bird in flight with a wing span of six-feet, nearly eagle size. It had a distasteful job of clearing away dead things, and most people were revolted by it. I, however, found vultures amazing, and watching them was a special kind of mediation. Admittedly it was a strange attraction with its ancient spirit symbol of death and rebirth. On the fateful trip south into the Baja desert, vulture’s own dead body lay in the middle of the road. I was naive when I stopped to claim a broken wing tip, and disregarded its warning of what was to come.
Today I saw vulture’s presence in the sky as a promise of cleaning up the emotional aftermath of my accident. On the trip down the Baja peninsula, I had reached down to change my cassette, for an instant my eyes left the road, the front tire hit a sandy shoulder. I over corrected putting us into a wild fishtail off the edge of an embankment, and flipped my little orange VW into the sky. In that airborne moment, totally out of control, I consciously faced death, and surrendered to whatever the outcome would be. When I returned to consciousness and crawled from her mangled frame, I knew it would have been much easier to die than face the future. The car was totaled, but somehow I had come out with only bruising. The grim emotional damage, however, was far deeper than the somber purple of my skin.
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