When it’s not your time…

A friend shared the video below on social media: a while ago, it must be said, as I found this festering in the drafts…

It reminded me of the sheer number of “near misses” that seem to have called, on an all too regular basis. I’ve already shared one such instance, involving the all too real possibility of finding the fast way down a mountain, here. It’s probably the only case, I recall, in which a physical sensation, with no apparent physical causation, was involved. That, and a very loud command…

It was the point in the video when we realise “he might be OK”, that caught my attention; having had a not too dis-similar experience myself.

I was, of course, riding far too fast on a winding, single-track road when the sheep (singular) popped out of the ditch and stood square in the middle of the road: daring me. There was only one way to go – I popped into the ditch…

The joy of having survived the unexpected off-road trip, without breaking something important (like a wheel, a front fork, or a leg…), was soon replaced by the realisation that the brakes were proving fairly inefficient. Aqua-planing down a mossy ditch has to be experienced to be fully appreciated.

“Oh, well. It’s not like I have to stop fast,” I thought. The drag of the water would slow me down to an orderly halt eventually. This ditch went the whole length of the road… I had all the time in the world…

That’s when I realised that, up ahead, there loomed a rather hard looking culvert. Necessitated by a sheep crossing, obviously looked upon with some derision and generally disregarded by the intended users of said crossing, it was fast approaching and there was no way that I could stop before…

When they say “your whole life flashes in front of your eyes”… well, they’re wrong.

What actually happens is: time stands still.

One hundred yards of mossy ditch, which until that moment had been flashing past in a blurry haze, became a hyper-real vista composed of infinite shades of deepest green, every soft plant hair and blade of grass stood out; if I hadn’t more pressing things to worry about, I could have counted every one. Inexorably, the lichen-encrusted rampart, topped by dancing sedge and purple flower heads, crept ever closer.

I was wearing more during my attempt than Alex Francis (it IS Scotland after all).

The inevitable impact resulted in a perfectly executed triple somersault, pike, with half turn: though I say it myself, and it was only witnessed by one startled sheep. The residual momentum caught me off guard, and I completed the impossible gymnastic feat with a cheeky backward roll, before landing on both feet facing the direction I’d just come.

That slow-motion effect is primal.

In that state, there is no panic, no fear. Just calm, dispassionate, almost disassociated, observation of the minutiae of events as they unfold. The moment is realised in its most fundamental expression. We are at one with the event, at one with the landscape, and completely, utterly, alone in the all-pervasive silence.

In modern society, such events tend to revolve around vehicular incidents; my most recent near-miss was described here, and the most dramatic made a cameo appearance here.

Curious expression – “near-miss”: most definitely implies a successful hit. Perhaps it’s these “near-hit” events which most powerfully focus the need to remain aware of the fragility and impermanence of our own existence…

…whether they teach us the urgent need to take greater care, as we careen towards our common destination, is another matter entirely.

About Running Elk

Running Elk is the name bestowed on me by a Medicine Man of the Zuni Nation in 2008 during a period of intense training in shamanic principles. Currently reconciling these core practices within the context of the Old World landscapes, folk beliefs and traditions by way of attempting to unearth some semblance of the long lost, indigenous knowledge of these Isles.
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13 Responses to When it’s not your time…

  1. Jude says:

    An interesting blog. I’m trying to figure out where you live, and wondering what sort of a bike you have.
    Thanks for the follow!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Running Elk says:

      Thanks, Jude. Glad to hear you enjoyed (some?) of the posts. πŸ™‚
      Afraid the bike days are long behind me… Every summer tempted to get one. Some day!
      Currently in NE, but the images in the blog are SW Scotland. Perfect biking roads down there, and a much overlooked part of the country when it comes to scenery, history and potential holiday destination. Defintely worth popping in on your way North once the restrictions lift. Turn left anywhere after Beattock summit! πŸ˜‰


      • Jude says:

        I enjoyed ‘Oops’, Wooden Spoon, and ‘When it’s not Your Time’ !
        You’re never too old to have a bike. I still have one, but won’t bring it to Lewis when I move because of expensive servicing πŸ™„.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: When it’s not your time… Running Elk | Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

  3. Widdershins says:

    Great video though … perfecting the art of, ‘that’s what I meant to do, really’, that cats epitomise and dogs aspire to. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Time stills…. Your turn of phrase is humourous, even with this subject matter. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sue Vincent says:

    That’s exactly how it feels… timeless.

    Liked by 1 person

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