Once upon a time today, my kid sister took me riding on her moped, and we went five miles on the highway with the brisk wind blasting our faces and ears and noses. We wore sunglasses to keep out the bugs and tried to ignore the cars behind us as we maxed out the speed on Sister’s relatively tiny vehicle.
An appropriate adjective for this experience might be “exhilarating.”
It was finally November in Arkansas, and we were experiencing it with all our senses–and I was finally feeling intensely, something, I’d complained to my roommate recently, that hadn’t happened much this semester. I’d gotten into a habit of doing my work methodically, then getting burned out methodically, then gradually resigning myself again to responsibilities. It hadn’t been the most exciting semester. So I’d asked God to let me “feel things intensely” again.
And then He did let me, and I almost wished I hadn’t asked.
October came back with all its orange-tinged glory, and some friends came, and some friends left, and I felt everything deeply. I was either monstrously glad or darkly sad all month, and I got tired of feeling ruled by my emotions. But today was fun, and I was glad to be with my sister doing a sort of a risky thing in a lovely November.
We’d gotten some cold smoothies to drink in the cold weather, and we’d sat in the sun to warm back up, when she said she’d teach me to drive her moped. I was less than confident, seeing as the last time I’d attempted anything similar was in the fifth grade, when I’d almost wrecked our friend’s electric scooter.
I wonder if you can guess where this story is heading.
I practiced in the parking lot and did remarkably well, according to my sister. The last thing she reminded me of, before I turned onto the street to drive us back to the dorm, was that “the brake is your friend.”
I’m not sure how to describe this.
I know that I turned the wheel, while I pulled the handle back to accelerate, but then I kept accelerating and the wheel did not keep turning at the same rate, and I forgot where the brakes were and how to use them and what even are brakes?
So then the moped hopped the curb on the other side of the street and kept on going, til finally something happened (maybe we tipped over) and everything (my sister, her moped, and me) plowed into the grass. The horn was going off, and I was just lying there, saying “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, Esther.”
Probably I looked dead from the road.
I didn’t have time to think about the possibility of either of us dying. That came afterward, when the safety officer, who had apparently seen the whole thing from the road, came up and asked over and over and over again whether we were okay or whether he needed to call an ambulance or call our parents or fill out a report or anything. We said no, we were fine.
We were fine, but he made me walk around, cause I guess I didn’t look fine.
Maybe I wasn’t fine.
Maybe I am not fine, because I keep thinking about what could have happened today, but didn’t. Something tragic could have played out, and I would have been responsible. And as alive as I felt, riding that moped down the highway, I am not invincible. Far, far from it.
Life is fragile, and as bored as I get with my sometimes uneventful life, it’s a privilege to get to live. God protected my sister and me today, and forced us to notice, but then again, He protects you and me every day. He keeps on giving us life, and it’s too precious for us to waste.
And that, friends, is why I will not be owning a moped.