I was walking on a quiet road yesterday when a van barreled out of nowhere and came within inches of hitting me. The driver tossed me an obscenity and sped on his way.
How easily my habit of walking and thinking about a thousand different things, combined with the obscuring noise of a lawnmower might have put me more directly in his path.
He reminded me that I need to pay attention, that the ordinary world is never as benign or familiar as it seems, and that others, too, are distracted by many things.
I turned a corner and met a stooped old man, bleached white with age, carrying a step ladder across the street. When I offered to help, he thanked me, but declined, saying that it was important for him to do what he can for himself.
Worried that the angry person in the van might return, I watched the old man until he'd safely navigated the street.
"Nice day!" I said, exhaling relief when he reached the other side.
He stopped deliberately, set down his ladder with satisfaction, and looked up in the sky as if to check.
"Yes, it is, but I'm happy to take any kind of day," he said, smiling broadly. "How about you?"
"Me, too," I said, touching my face where the gravel kicked up by the van had grazed my skin. Me, too.
*Meanwhile, has anyone seen my blogroll? It disappeared mysteriously a few weeks back. I hope to get an updated version up soon.