"Ha, ha, ha," he laughed, in his gravelly voice, clipped and far-flung. That's an Eastern European accent maybe, or perhaps Russian. We're passing by a set of whirling blue and red lights. I never look at accidents. My passengers can do that for me. People complain about Looky-Loos, but have you noticed how they too look themselves? I find morbid neck-craning artless and tiresome. We can all agree Looky-Loo slowdowns on the opposite side of an incident are among the most grossly unnecessary parts of the traffic organism. Do you want to be gawked at, when your leg is broken?
This fellow, dressed in a tattered assortment of grays and browns, was observing the carnage to our left, and it made him cackle. "Somebody had a heart attack, ha, ha. Always somebody having a heart attack!"
I was having my Looky-Loo thoughts and considered taking offense, but decided otherwise. What would be the benefit? No need for such theatrics. I may think empathy is important, but he has his own perspective. I did what has saved me in the past– search out the common ground. Getting along makes life easier.
"Every day," I agreed.
"I never had one," he rumbled. I loved his accent. Niiyever. "I have high blood pressure, but so far no. I just drink beer and vodka all day." Wodka. "But I have no heart attack!"
"You don't want that!"
"I love beer and wodka."
"No, I mean a heart attack."
"Oh, I don't care about that."
I didn't say anything, but he heard my silence anyway. My silence thundered out, well, you will, if it happens….
He replied to my thought with, "if I'm going to die, I'm going to die."
"That's true." This man's wisdom lies in repetition.
"Better to die in bed than on the street. People retire then the next day they die. Me, I am going to live. While I'm alive, I'm going to live."
We come to this game equipped with our past experiences, and we tackle it based on those, in the way we think ideal. Was his final thesis so different than mine, when I tell myself to drive this trip as if it were my last chance to do so? A good friend once told me, the worst thing we can do to ourselves is put off our goals, passions, interests, on the faith that there will be time to do so in the future.
That time may not materialize.
The outline of ourselves exists to be filled out not later, after the mortgage is paid or the kids are grown, but in this breathing minute. This turn, carried out with the precision I know I'm capable of; this greeting, my eyes twinkling for my fellow brethren, whom I may not know again. Such ideas bring out the best in me, and remind me of the value of making the most of that short window of time we call "now."
There is nothing else.