As I slid to a stop on my side on the pavement, I saw the whole thing flash before my eyes again.
Before I hit the gravel, I knew in my mind’s eye what was going to happen. I saw the motorcycle hit the mountain and then ricochet across the pavement.
I didn’t clamp down hard on the brakes, but it probably wouldn’t have mattered if I did. As I swerved to miss the abruptly stopped car, the front wheel hit the gravel, then the mountain. Luckily, the car zoomed out of the way and around the bend, so I didn’t hit it as I skidded across the pavement. I also realized that I’d stayed on the road instead of sliding over the edge of the cliff.
I wondered if anything was broken. I didn’t think so.
By this time, Anthony was at my side. He’d been riding behind me and saw the whole thing happen. He thought I might continue skidding off the side of the mountain.
He picked the motorcycle up and off of me. I was relieved to have the spinning tire off my leg. We took inventory. He couldn’t believe I was intact. But I was intact thanks to the protective gear I wore. My boots were slashed. My jacket was shredded. And the smashed helmet proved that it protected my life.
And it was all preventable.
It was May 2009. We’d rented motorcycles during our time on the Isle of Skye. Anthony really wanted to ride to Applecross, so we planned a day trip and set off. The road is windy and curvy and the elevation rises quickly. The views are breathtaking.
The town at the top was lovely and we stopped for a wee break. Did I mention the views?
We started back down. I led because Anthony knows how much I love unobstructed views and the wind in my face. We quickly caught up to a car with a very unconfident driver.
The road is a single-track road, meaning that there’s only 1 lane. When oncoming traffic approaches, either you or the oncoming vehicle have to move to a “passing place,” a widened shoulder off the road, to let the other car drive by.
The driver in front of us seemed nervous at the turns and especially when oncoming traffic approached. Sometimes he would slow on a straight away to less than 5 miles an hour as he approached a turn.
Anthony and I decided to pull off the road in a passing spot to chill and enjoy the view. We were there for 10 minutes and then resumed the journey with hopes that the cautious man would be further on his way.
We caught him in 2 minutes of normal driving. I became frustrated. Why wouldn’t he just pull over so we could pass?
I kept my pace pretty steady, but with his sporadic speeds and braking, found myself close to him several times. It’s hard to ride a motorcycle at 5 miles an hour.
Then suddenly, he seemed to get it. He steadily drove 20 and I was ecstatic. I matched his speed—with plenty of space between us in case he changed his mind. Or, so I thought. I came around the mountain corner onto a straightaway and he was barreling along.
And then, he just stopped without any indication to me. Apparently an oncoming car caused him to stop in his tracks on the road instead of pulling over into the next passing place. Suddenly my safe distance was going, going, gone.
I chose to hit the mountain versus gambling with the mountain edge.
While they’ve faded substantially, I still bear scars from my injuries.
Crashes with Others
This experience taught me a lot about the journey through life with others. We are all so very different with different talents, weaknesses, fears, strengths, desires, and purposes. We often categorize other people based on our reality.
Maybe instead of being unconfident or tentative, the driver in front of me was overwhelmed with the views or trying to relate some family tale on that trail to his family. Maybe he was terrified of motorcycles and couldn’t function well with two behind him. Since our life intersection was brief and random, I won’t ever know him or his ‘why.’ I just know what impressions I gathered from observations based on my perceptions.
Another huge lesson for me is that regardless of a person’s reasons, or logic, our reactions to them can cause us to crash. It took me a long time to appreciate this aspect of mortality. But, now I do appreciate it.
Crashes give us a chance to take stock and see what the crash triggers in us. It’s a blessing to see an experience with the eyes of learning and growth. Why did I react that way and crash? What emotions did it trigger? Do I like how I reacted to the crash, aka am I growing or still succumbing to old, less useful ways of thought? How can I improve to avoid the crash in a similar situation?
Do I see the crash as a source of learning and grow from it or see it as evidence of failure and let it paralyze me? Did I consider the needs of the person who “made me” crash or was I wrapped up in myself? Will I let old scars from crashes heal or do I prefer gaping and oozing wounds?
Do I take advantage of life’s protective gear? Do I understand who I am well enough that crashing into others doesn’t damage my self esteem or sense of life purpose? Do I take things personally and hold grudges or let them go? Do I allow covenants to protect me? Do I rely on the Savior’s atonement to heal my wounds?
I’m grateful for the Savior’s “crash” because of my sins, weaknesses, and griefs in Gethsemane. I’m grateful that He sees me for who I really am, a daughter of God with eternal potential, and not as the sum of my failings.
I’m grateful for everyone I journey through life with—for the opportunity we have to help each other learn about diversity, tolerance, and forgiveness as we crash into each other and because of each other. The Savior stands as Mediator between us offering retribution and healing after difficult crashes.
When I remember my Applecross driver-neighbor, I should only see the Savior’s face, because in His Atonement, He stands in the place of everyone around me.
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have moved 64 times and have not tired of experiencing this beautiful earth! I love the people, languages, histories/anthropologies, & especially religious cultures of the world. My life long passion is the study & searching out of religious symbolism, specifically related to ancient & modern temples. My husband Anthony and I love our bulldog Stig, adventures, traveling, movies, motorcycling, and time with friends and family.