Limping on the freeway.Yesterday we went to the big Casino, a large grocery store near our house. After a somewhat quick trip on the freeway, the tangled exit (which the city calls an improvement, but really almost makes it impossible to find the store), we picked the goods, put them in the cart, thought about the Easter menu, priced the items through the self-checkout, (with three calls to the assistant to reset the machine), pushed the items to the car, loaded them in the back, put the cart back, navigated the “improved” exit and got back on the freeway. We were mostly quiet. The radio wasn’t even on. The cars in the multi-lane freeway began to slow. Maybe an accident ahead. No worries really. We crawled along with the traffic. There was no honking, which is unusual for our country. The car in front of us made a quick lane change and our hearts stopped. In front of us, a one-legged man (with a prosthesis), walking down the middle of the freeway. My husband turned quickly, I imagine before we both started to breathe. We didn’t speak for a minute. What had we just seen? It was real? But it was more than strange. It was terrifying. Truly terrifying. Soul shaking. What was happening? What would happen to him? What were we all witnessing?
We put the groceries away, as if we could just get on with our day, and forget about it. But could we? Could we drive down this freeway and ever feel the same?
Our usual routine is to watch a small feed of the American news before lunch. The George Floyd trial was on. They showed the videos again and again. I can’t describe them in detail, for it too, is unimaginable. What are we witnessing here? How can this be real? How can this possibly have happened. The same soul- shaking feeling gripped my insides, and I knew, what we are watching is our collective humanity dangerously limp down the middle of the freeway.
Our pure, but broken, humanity is in grave danger. But just as sure, it is alive. It is living.
They have done studies in France to calculate the estimated time one has to remain alive on the side of the road, say, if your car has broken down. The time is surprisingly short. There are no studies estimating your chances in the middle.
We don’t have the luxury of time here. We have to save our humanity. This minute. This very second. I don’t have the answers, so I can only work on myself. In this springtime air, this moment of rebirth, we have the chance to begin. We have the chance to make a change, make a difference, to say, “Let it be me.” Let it be me.