Lessons from the other night, when I thought I killed my friend

The bed of my dump truck broke free from the body, flipping to the side as two and a half tons of dirt and metal crashed to the ground. For the first three seconds, my friend was under that massive pile. For three seconds, my friend was unquestionably dead. Except that he wasn’t actually under the mound, he had moved out of the way. But I didn’t know that. In my mind, I was in some way responsible for a death. In my mind, I was helpless, incompetent, terrified, confused, and utterly broken. I called his name and at first there was no response. I ran around the broken truck and saw him. I have never been so relieved. I wasn’t thinking about the thousands of dollars of repairs, I wasn’t thinking about the jobs to be postponed. I was grateful, utterly, deliriously grateful.

That moment and the two days since have taught me some things. Here are some things that I’ve learned:

*What the fuck are we doing?          

Seriously, what the fuck are we doing. If you’re old enough to be reading this than you will be dead in the next 90 years. I guarantee you, it will happen. It could happen today. The bed of a truck may fall on you now. What are we doing? Why are we giving so much attention to such petty bullshit? Why can’t we put the excuses aside and really love the people that matter to us. Why can’t we put the bullshit aside and love?

I read a book a few years ago where when you forgot what was important in life you had to play Russian roulette. You had to put a bullet in the chamber, spin it, put the gun to your head and pull the trigger. If you lived you’d understand how valuable your life was. I’m not advocating this as a good practice, but I can understand the result. We need a good, humbling smack in the face every once in a while. Most of the time we’re too damaged to realize the value of what we have. Most of the time we don’t see the sunset.

* A truck is not a truck

A truck is not a truck, it’s the product of many decisions. Sometimes it looks like a truck, other times it looks like iron ore and rubber plantations, other times it looks like a welder who was distracted because his kid is sick and he’s having a shitty day so he rushes a weld. A truck is not a truck, a house is not a house. It is sometimes and other times it isn’t. These things change quickly, we should expect that. Things break, sometimes fall. Sometimes they move soil and transport people, other times they kill people. Proceed with caution.

* I have an amazing, caring community, and that scares the shit out of me

Since the truck attempted homicide the support we’ve received has been amazingly humbling. My neighbor, who I was pretty sure didn’t like me the first few years we lived here, spent ten hours helping me deal with the problem. Today he was driving around helping me look for a new truck bed. Other friends have offered money, ice cream, love, and concern. Two friends are letting me borrow their trucks to help me stay on my work schedule while we’re dealing with our truck.

This is so wonderful, and so scary. I don’t like getting help. I don’t like needing it. It terrifies me. I’m not sure how to give it back. I believe in community. I want to be a member of a strong community. I am,  but it still scares me. Why is this so hard? Earlier today I was listening to “On Being with Krista Tippett.” The guest, Nadia Bolz-Weber is a bad ass, the type of radical Christian I can get on board with. She said that she doesn’t believe the aphorism that “you’re only given as much as you can handle.” She believes that you are only given as much as your community can handle. Our hardships must be distributed, used as a thread binding us together, solidarity in the flesh. I believe this. I am struggling to live this, and I am so, so glad to be alive.