Saturday, October 16, 2010

zigging and zagging

Last night I finished my workout and was about to leave the locker room. Just before I stepped out I spotted my friend John and for about 90 seconds I stopped and shot the breeze. I went downstairs to the club lobby and there was Margarett and Mayank, two regular tennis playing cronies. For about thirty seconds we traded good natured barbs as is our wont. I went to the parking lot to drive off. Another member was driving off at about the same time and the route I would have taken was blocked off. So, I circled around and it took me about 15 seconds longer than otherwise to drive off the premises.

It was rainy and miserable. Plus at 630 pm the traffic was heavy on the road I take to get home. About half way through the drive I saw a vehicle, two cars ahead of me stop suddenly. The car right in front of me either did not see the stopping car or could not brake on the slick roads. I said, whoa, because I knew this would be close. It was not close, the car in front of me smashed into the stopped car. I was only seconds behind him--so close that my car's forward motion after the crash had me by passing both the rammed vehicles.

What is the difference between a pleasant drive home and a horrific accident that at the very least will ruin a weekend and at worst could be physically debilitating? Spotting John in the locker room? Seeing Mayank and Margarett in the lobby. Spinning around in the parking lot spending fifteen seconds more exiting?

How many times in our lives do we zig instead of zag and the zigging is either life saving or sends us on a route that gets us lost.

At the reunion last weekend I spotted a couple who looked nearly exactly like they did when they dated in 1969. They had these genuine smiles on their kissers. Most people were smiling at the reunion, but these folks looked like they smiled as a matter of course. I remembered them when they were "going out" in college. When did they decide to zig and stay together when they might have been tempted to zag.

Zigging and zagging is what we all do. Each step can matter. Sometimes it is a matter of luck, like last night, stopping to talk to my friend in the locker room. I don't stop, I am likely ramming into the car in front of me.

But sometimes it is not luck. We have a choice to zig or zag. Zig and we are beaming forty years later, zag who knows? I think about this couple at the reunion and I imagine just who they might have been, how well preserved they might have been, and how they might have smiled had they taken a different route.

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