It can be deadly to linger at the rear view mirror.
I took the bypass because it’s supposed to be safer. But even if it’s a divided highway with light traffic, you still need to keep your eyes on the road–looking ahead with the occasional glance in the rear view mirror.
Have you ever noticed how the rear view mirror magnifies your face? Today when I glanced in the mirror, cruising 65 mph on the bypass, I noticed one car behind me in the distance and… horrors!
The beginnings of a wattle (that flabby thing that hangs under a chicken’s beak–really, I looked it up).
Ironically, while brushing my teeth this morning, I’d looked lovingly at my wrinkles and thanked God for the privilege of living as long as I have. Every grey hair, every wrinkle documents time that I’ve had on this planet–a gift I don’t want to take for granted.
Now, here I was, less than 12 hours later, cringing and turning the rear view mirror for a closer look.
The road had been clear for as far ahead as I could see, but when I pulled my gaze away from the wattle and readjusted the mirror, I saw a huge semi parked half on the highway maybe 200 yards in front of me.
I had just enough time to check on the car behind me and change lanes to avoid smashing into the back of the truck.
Yes. It would have been a crash and I would have been crushed, instantly.
A dramatic swerve wasn’t necessary and there was no big adrenaline rush, but for the next five minutes I sat in my imagination of what would be happening right at that moment, right now, if I hadn’t turned away from the rear view mirror, back to the future–the road ahead.
My beloved would’ve been notified. Our children. My parents and sisters. My extended family and friends. Everything would be different. The 21 year-old birthday party scheduled for tomorrow night would’ve been cancelled. The trip scheduled next week with my beloved…
But I was here, still driving down the by-pass.
It felt something like resurrection.
I noticed everything, especially how the winter world still breathed beauty all around–sparkling diamonds in fields of snow, quiet farm houses splashing color against the naked trees, bright green exit signs announcing the next place…
Press pause: I am alive. Life is normal, regular, status quo, and I am so very grateful.
On the return trip home, the setting sun sent a pillar of fire shooting up into the powder blue winter sky to my right. Opposite, it’s glory reflected back on a rising full moon .
I pulled over (all the way), put on my hazard lights, and captured the moment.
Morning, evening. Future, past. Here, there. Young, Old. Sometimes we get the chance to hold them at the same time and to fully experience the present moment.
Rear view mirrors are important. Looking back, we stay aware of what lies behind and how that might impact our journey now. But rear view mirrors do not tell us what is right in front of us.
It’s a good thing to check the rear view mirror, but it is downright dangerous to gaze into it if you want to move safely forward.
Press pause: Let me stay aware of my past, but live in this moment, aware of what is in front of me and where I’m going. No crashing or smashing the future because of looking back with regret or remorse.