Tuesday, September 16, 2008


I admit with great shame how little I know about the hurricanes that hit our country, or how those of you in the affected areas are faring. (Though I have been sending good thoughts, of course.) What I know, I learned from the blogs I read.
I wouldn't be able to name a movie made in the last year if I didn't drive down Billboard Strip on my commute, where the titles and the celebrity likenesses loom large enough that the Rooster points them out to me.
I heard about the bum call in the Chargers/Broncos game from lunch room talk and thought I'd Google for the full scoop, but haven't had the chance.
I just have precious little contact with the outside world.
But two stories have penetrated my bubble, capturing my attention, and I'm dwelling.
About the first -- the Sarah Palin story -- I am at a loss for words.
But the other -- the train wreck in Los Angeles -- brings me to this blog to write tonight when really I should be sleeping, because I need to process it here.
I live not too far from that terrible train wreck. In case it didn't penetrate your bubble, a Metro train and a freight train collided, killing and injuring many people.
Now, if we turn on our only television, it's almost always for a Rooster to get his daily fix of Curious George. He doesn't really allow us to watch "Mommy and Daddy TV," and we don't want the kids to see the news, anyway. Car time means kids books on tape. Internet time means blogging and email. But I have snuck a few minutes here and there to find coverage of this train wreck. Today, although I never had time for an official lunch, I dropped by the lunch room to find the newspaper. I have no idea why I feel so compelled to follow the tragedy, when I avoid tear-jerker books, close my eyes during sad parts of movies. But today I read about how at least two of the victims in this latest train crash also had been victims of the previous worst Los Angeles train crash. One of these two men survived both crashes; he has terrible injuries, but he will leave the hospital in time. The other, a hero who rescued others during the first crash, did not make it this time. A tragedy.
Reporters asked the man in the hospital: Does this make you lucky, since both times you survived, or unlucky, because twice you found yourself in train crashes. The question itself stopped me in my tracks for several moments as I thought about what my answer would be before I let myself find out his response.
What do you think he said?
What would you say?
He said: Only time will tell.
Sarah Palin. Autism. There are a lot of things that fit that man's description: only time will tell.
There are all kinds of train wrecks.
There are all kinds of tragedies.
The wife of the man who perished said, "Last time, my husband came home." Such a tragedy.
And yet I read someone who talked about why that man had continued to ride the train. Didn't he get scared from the first wreck? No, it said. He didn't chose to live that way. He liked his commute, liked the camaraderie of the train, didn't believe in living in fear. The person quoted said that if instead of dying in this second wreck, the man had lived but lost his legs, he would have wheeled himself on to another train to commute to work.
I guess I'm thinking a lot about perspective. I am thinking about the perspective I have versus the perspective I want to have. I am thinking about tragedy and triumph, fear and courage, train wrecks and survival.
To me it feels tragic to read of that hero dying in this latest crash. It also feels tragic that my grandma is gone. But which is worse? Would that man on the train have preferred the route my grandma's life took, at the end, or would she have preferred his ending?
We all die. My initial reaction to that thought is a feeling of grief. But maybe I just need to work on my perspective. Yes, there are train wrecks, and yes, they are tragic. But maybe not everything is a train wreck. Maybe sometimes I make train wrecks out of little fender benders.
Okay, I'm tired and I'm making exceptionally weak metaphors here, but what I'm processing here is what I have to learn from those two men who had been in both crashes. For one thing, the both kept on riding. They refused to let tragedy stop them. And the man in the back brace recuperating for a second time makes a good point; you can't have perspective on good luck versus bad luck so soon after the wreck. Only time will tell.

1 comment:

Niksmom said...

Sending you hugs and energy to keep "getting on the train" so to speak. Perspective often comes when we least expect it. xo