There is nothing like the squeal of car brakes when you are crossing the road to give you a newfound, albeit temporary, appreciation for life. An appreciation for your physical integrity. A shift in perspective. Suddenly being tired didn’t matter. Being able to walk despite being tired did.
I paused. Watched the light change and the cars stop. I eyed the cars to my right that might turn left into my path and ventured out. Out of my peripheral vision I saw a car barreling for the intersection. I heard the sudden slamming of brakes. I reacted but it would have done little good if the car drove through the red light at the speed it was traveling.
Fortunate for me something signaled to the driver that he needed to slam on his brakes. Was it the red light? Was it the number of cars sitting at the red light waiting for it to change? Was it me crossing the road?
The offending vehicle was a Smart Car. One of those two-passenger jobs. Small. But I would have lost that fight. And not walked away from my encounter with it. An unprotected human is no match for a car, whatever the size, traveling around 40mph.
Wide-eyed and scared for my safety, I gingerly continued through the crosswalk. I made it to the other side. After that, I was spooked by bicyclists passing me on the trail. Jumping anytime something approached. Especially from behind.
I thought about how wonderful it was that I could walk down the trail. That I could enjoy the breeze, the sights, the sounds of the birds, my hands running over the tree leaves as I walked by. I just as easily could have been mangled at that moment. The night. The week. The rest of my life could have been vastly different. All because of a car that might or might not drive through a red light as I crossed the street.
The encounter gave me a heightened awareness of things around me. A temporary awakening to the good things I was able to enjoy. A temporary shift in perspective.