Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Just A Minute

It's an early start today, at least early for me. Ricky is moving back to Vancouver and Kate is here for the drive down. The three of us will leave in about an hour. The drive may take us one day or it may take us two, depending on road conditions and how we get along in the car. Doing anything with other people requires extra time and patience; that's just the way it is.

The road conditions here in Calgary are rough, with snow all over the place and plenty of ice. Yesterday I tried to get out in my power wheelchair. I transferred into it, drove down the hall, took the elevator to the basement and opened the garage door, all to discover that the driveway ramp had not yet been shoveled. Apparently the power chair cannot handle 8 inches of snow and slush. I ended up going back upstairs to get my manual chair, then driving across the street to the blood clinic and the mall. As luck and irony would have it, as I was leaving the driveway was being shoveled. If I had waited five minutes I could have stayed in the power chair.

Life is like that much of the time. A minute here or a few minutes there can make all the difference to the outcome. A rushed moment or bit of extra delay change change the course of events far more dramatically than we realize. I remember once driving the Fraser Canyon with my then brother-in-law Paul. We were on one of our many hunting excursions, headed out in the darkness of the small hours. As we came around a curve a large chunk of rock and ice heaved itself off the side of the mountain. Fortunately Paul was able to swerve around it with no damage to us or his truck. I wondered about what might have happened if we had been a few minutes earlier. What disaster did we avert simply through the unknown expedient of taking a few extra minutes to get ready?

I was in New York on business. It was February 25, 1993, a Thursday. My normal week in New York at that time was to fly in on the Sunday overnight flight, and fly home on Friday night. It meant I could get a full week in with my client and yet still be home for the weekend. On this particular week, it turned out that the last of my appointments was over on Thursday. So instead of taking the noon train to the airport and catching the afternoon flight on Friday, I caught a late flight on Thursday evening so I could be home with my family all that much sooner.

Out to the airport I went, off in the plane I went. I arrived home in the tiniest of hours on Friday morning and collapsed into bed. Imagine my horror and surprise the next morning when I heard on the news that the World Trade Center had been bombed, the very train station where I would catch the train out to La Guardia Airport, at noon on Friday, the very time I would have caught the train.

A day here, a minute there, an hour or two... life is so random. There is no pattern to it, no reward for the good or punishment for the bad That's why we make up stories about what happens in the afterlife or in heaven. We need a sense of evenness in life, a sense that things happen for a reason. But they don't. They just happen and a minute here or a second there can make all the difference you can imagine.

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