The Orange Barrels of our Life

A few weeks ago, I was zipping along on the interstate in the early morning darkness, smiling to myself because I had everything in control. Lake Geneva’s book festival would allow me to sell my books and meet fellow authors and readers. Life was good.

Traffic on the two-lane stretch was tight. l was in the left lane when a UPS truck driver in the right lane ahead of me turned on his flashers.

My grip tightened on the steering wheel, and my foot hovered above the brake, knowing something was coming out of the dark. All senses on high alert, I watched for a crossing deer, an accident, or another danger.

When my headlights spotlighted an orange construction barrel flying into my lane, I stopped breathing. It was headed straight for my windshield. 

I hit the brakes. I slowed enough that instead of hitting my windshield, the barrel banged into my left headlight area, bouncing off into the ditch. 

The driver turned on his signal light and pulled off. When safe, I did the same. While we waited for the police, I counted my blessings that the airbags hadn’t gone off and that no one was injured.

There are many moments in life when we’re happily going along and then, BAM! The sun is shining brilliantly one minute, a thunderstorm rolls in the next. We think we have it together, and then, Bam! We’re hit with an orange barrel.

Like you, I’ve had several such moments. I’m reminded of one anytime I wear my lavender shoes. It was a gorgeous spring day. I was on vacation and off on an adventure with my dog. The perfect combination brought out the kid in me, and I began skipping on the condo’s cement parking lot. The toe of my shoe caught the cement and—BAM! in a millisecond, I was falling toward the hard pavement. My right knee hit first. The pain was unbelievably intense, made sharper because of the contrast between the happiness I’d felt seconds before. Fortunately, I hadn’t done permanent damage, and only ended up with an impressive scar.

A much scarier, life-threatening moment happened when a health condition had me slumping onto the floor of the clinic. A ride in an ambulance to the Baraboo hospital and then a med-flight helicopter ride threw me into a tailspin. But luckily, I managed to dodge the orange barrel once again.

We get a scary diagnosis, a loved one becomes ill, or we’re confronted with yet another virus like monkeypox or RSV. These are the unpredictable orange barrels that fly out of the darkness. Yet we pay attention, hold our foot over the brake, ask for help when needed, count our blessings for what we manage to avoid, and reach out a helping hand to those who need it. We survive.

4 Replies to “The Orange Barrels of our Life”

Shirley Meyer

Enjoyed ft EEn

Thank you. Make sure you read the upcoming Thanksgiving column which features Burbank School!

Way to turn a nasty experience into an insightful one. Well done!

Thank you my faithful readers and friend.

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