Thursday, May 17, 2018

VanLife Day 10 or We Don't Own Our Next Breath

The Kraken at sunrise on day ten of VanLife.

It was a beautiful morning, the kind that makes you glad to be alive.  The birds were in full chorus and the air was cool and crisp and gentle on my skin.  A soft breeze ruffled the leaves in the trees and the smell of spring was in the air.  I was reminded of the old hymn, "Morning Has Broken" made popular in secular culture by Cat Stevens in the 1970's.

Morning had broken for some, though not for others and I was reminded of an incident that happened the other night at around midnight while I was sleeping in the van.  It's a moment in time I'm not likely to forget.

I had fallen asleep earlier, around 10 pm or so.  It had been a long busy day and I was tired to my bones.  My bed is oh, so very comfortable and my blanket so very soft.  The temperature in the van was just right for sleeping and so sleep came quickly.

I was awoken around midnight by a scream I shan't forget.  It was across between a scream and a wail.  It was followed by two more, each one weaker than the last.  The first one woke me up; the next two chilled me to the bone.  Something terrible had happened.

Being in the van I couldn't tell the direction from which the scream came nor could I tell how far away the person was but I thought not terribly far, though not in close proximity either.

It wasn't long, half and minute to a minute perhaps, that emergency vehicles converged from all directions not far from me, maybe a block or two.  With all the red flashing lights, the sirens, and the sheer number of first responders I knew something terrible had indeed happened.

I didn't sleep for the rest of the night and I when morning broke I would soon find out what had happened.

Google is an ever present companion of mine.  She keeps me informed, up to date, and offers advice on where to eat or what to do from time to time.  This morning she gave me the breaking story on the midnight occurrence.

Two men, described as homeless in the article, had attempted to cross the highway about a block and a half from where the Kraken was parked for the night with me sleeping.  They crossed at the same time a car was approaching.   The driver managed to swerve and miss hitting one of the men but the other one wasn't so lucky.  He died of his injuries.

There were three people there with reason to scream that night and I don't know who all I heard but I felt for all three of them and offered a stunned and shaken prayer.  A man stopped breathing that night and it wasn't a gentle goodbye.

I've said all of that to say this: none of us own our next breath and time is shorter than you think.  My mentor in the church, Bishop Karl PrĂ¼ter of blessed memory, use to remind us of that and he would often followup with the comment that he could step off a curb and get hit by a sanitation truck at any moment.  I always wondered if he ever had a close call with a sanitation truck when he was younger.

Hummingbird Suncatcher at Crystal Revelations

I do what I do because I love it.  I love creating art.  I love sharing that with other people and I love making money doing it.  I'm an unapologetic wandering capitalistic artist.  I looked around me the other night and took stock of my time making art, traveling/living in a van, and doing what I love and I was happy with my choices.

For instance, that little hummingbird suncatcher you see above represents a very real 10 minutes of my life, six to eight minutes sculpting the bird in the flame and another two to four minuets adding color to it.  That is time I will never get back; time frozen in glass.  And I would do it again.  I'm living the life that I want.

Can you say the same thing?  If you can't, you best get to it.  A gentle reminder, you don't own your next breath dear reader and you could step off of a curb and get hit by a sanitation truck at any given moment.  Don't wait until it's too late to make your life yours.