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Friday, March 28, 2008



Let me invite you, sisters and brothers, to sit back, get toasty, and welcome one of the great artists of our times Gil Scott-Heron, whose eight minute presentation of this wonderful presentation which I first heard in the late seventies, came to mind as I trembled my way through the chilly snow and rain of the last few days, and shed some light on what I hope will always be the one value we shall choose to share in the bad times and in the good times.


I took my first and only driving lessons when I was twenty eight years old. And this old dog, by then, was much too old to learn new tricks... I stayed right at the speed limit in town or on the freeway. It takes me two thousand years to settle into any parking space. And I cannot remember the last time I even seriously considered driving on the freeway.

Back in the Stone Ages I got caught in a terrible snowstorm in Seattle. That frightening afternoon, as I watched my car slowly sliding down the street and I saw in my mind that I would soon end up on the sidewalk and then hitting a tree, I said this prayer: "Lord, just let me get home this time and I promise you I will never drive in the snow again."

I got home. I stayed off the road during the winter time for years. But I got caught the last few days--- rain in the morning, snow in the afternoon, thick gray clouds cruelly heading my way in the evening.

Check out this not too promising view

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Why oh why, would I even consider going out in these hard times? To impress other folks? Too late for that. All of my friends know that I ain't driving on nobody's freeway and I ain't getting behind the wheel of a car when it snows.

To get over my fears? I've tried positive self talk, hypnosis, self-hypnosis; others have encouraged me, teased me, tried to bribe me... I have got on my aching old knees and prayed... and I am still afraid.

But (watch out, I'm about to go into murky waters here) I still believe that people can choose to help each other (and I do trust myself to friends who love to drive, taxi drivers, shuttle drivers, airplane pilots--- any one who has the care and patience to help me get around).

Folks like these two young barristas at the Firehouse Coffee Shop

Or these two brothers bringing sunshine to each other as they sat waiting for the bus to come on a chilly morning

Always I have found a sister who chose to understand me and help me to get through
the bone chilling times and the dry hard moments. Always I have found a brother wh chose to sit with me and help me to find my way through the daily maze of the ups and downs of life.

And I hope that I can continue to choose to be a brother to each person who comes into my life-- because that is, finally, all I have to offer during these hard times.
Isn't the old saying so very true... the sun always comes back after the rain and the snow?

I invite you to just lay back and stick with Gill Scott for eight minutes... LOVE AND PEACE


Lorraine Hart said...

I have found that it's best not to try to push or cajole someone into driving through their fear. I have a girlfriend, back in NY, who cannot (and should not) drive because of a dyslexia between the brake and accelerator. Some male friends would insist they could teach her...and gave-up not far down the road. Ah, but she is one of my favourite passengers!

I look forward to being your chariot, m'lord!

JosephMcG said...

Lorraine: Thank you.. Truly you are a friend who,on a given day, seeing clearly, in a healing way,
soothes a hurting friend's pain,

Bringing sunshine to a winter's snowy rain

Lorraine Hart said...

You're a pal and a chum
who won't let me stay glum
so I'll gladly steer
for you my dear!

Do you think we can get a job writing for Hallmark cards?

EmeraldPrincessOnline said...

Do you recall the 6.8 Magnitude Nisqually earthquake that rocked the Seattle-Tacoma area, February 28, 2001, at 10:54 a.m.?

I had an appointment at the University of Washington Medical Center Clinic on Roosevelt Way at 11 a.m.

I drove to Seattle for the appointment and was barely going to make it on time as I pulled into the underground parking garage at 10:53 a.m. and began the downward trek into the bowels of the parking garage trying to find a vacant parking spot. There were none on Floor 1, Floor 2, Floor 3, and as I arrived at the 4th Floor (again, underground) the quake hit.

In the tight confines of that concrete and steel sarcophagus all the tightly parked and packed vehicles were rocking violently with a cacaphony of car alarms sounding in the cavernous concrete walls as the massive beams undulated inches above my head as I was in the driver's seat of our minivan. It seemed a certainty that I would be buried alive.

I couldn't decide what to do whether I should stay upright and let my neck be broken so that I would die quickly if crushed, or if I should lie down on the floorboards of the van and hope that if crushed I might still be alive when someone would unearth the former parking garage, or...

Then the shaking and quaking stopped. The power had gone out. It was pitch dark down there.

I bailed out of the van and ran toward a nearby elevator. Just as I got to the doors of the elevator, it crashed with a thunk.

The only way out was to run up those four floors of spiraling ramps ... and I did. I ran for my life.

Arriving at street level and seeing daylight again was like being rescued from a mine disaster.

Having made it out of the garage then I had to decide whether or not I wanted to re-enter the building to still attend my appointment that day. Ultimately, I decided to move forward and go to the appointment, which also involved climbing several flights of stairs to get up to the floor the clinic was on.

Once inside and situated in an exam room, a nurse came in and explained the emergency procedure to me that if another quake hit, we would exit through the window. Yes, the window.

When the water faucet was turned on, rusty brown water poured out as pipes had broken and sediment had been disturbed by the quake.

It took all the courage I could muster after the appointment to walk back down those flights of stairs and to walk back down that spiral in the parking garage to retrieve my van and start the drive back home. But I did it.

On the city streets of Seattle and even on I-5, it was as if every motorist was as traumatized as I was. Traffic was bumper-to-bumper and crept along at 10 MPH as if in a funeral procession as we all drove across the elevated roadways of I-5 over downtown Seattle no doubt fearing that the ramps and the roadway itself might collapse from quake damage.

It was such a relief when I safely made it back to home.

The reason I'm sharing this long story of my ordeal that day is that I was profoundly affected by it. It tooks years before I overcame a generalized fear of parking garages and elevated roadways. I could see every crack in a ceiling or a beam or the floor beneath.

But I did eventually overcome it.

The day may come when you will also be victorious in overcoming your fear of driving in the snow.

I didn't think I would ever overcome the profound effect that being underground during the earthquake had on me, but I did.

And that's why I'm sure that someday, you, too, will overcome your fear. You know that saying that, "What angers you, controls you." Likewise, "What you fear, controls you." As we face those things that scare us, we open the door to freedom.

Lorraine Hart said...

Jaynie, while I applaud you overcoming your fear of parking garages, I still wouldn't encourage a fearful driver to get on the highway and try for a personal best at control. Overly cautious drivers are as dangerous as drivers who throw caution to the a lot of other people as well as themselves.

We should challenge ourselves, yes...but we should also know ourselves and deal accordingly, especially when other lives could be involved.

Stephanie Frieze said...

Joseph, my middle son did not get his driver's license until he was 28 and his wife pregnant. He had jokingly said that he and the baby could take their road tests together when the babe turned 16, but he'd actually had driver's ed in high school and decided that driving his wife to the hospital was going to be his goal which he reached.

That said, Lorraine is right, no one should be pushed into situations that could be damaging physically and emotionally. My husband has had a few accidents in the snow and now stays put when the flakes fly.

For myself, I will do whatever it takes to stay off freeways. I know many, many backroads between Gig Harbor and the Long Beach Peninsula. Back roads are best!

JosephMcG said...

EP online: Your story was beautifully told and aptly focused...
Right now I know that I feel safe taking the bus and leaving driving in the snow to snow-driving folks

I just spoke with a friend of mine who is going to the same meeting I am going to in Portland next week...
I was going by train; he's driving down... and so I get a chance to enjoy a friend's company on the trip rather than my beautiful cds (can you believe I have Lou Rawls, Les McCann, Paul Robeson, and Mariah Carey on cds now... my oh my) and I am just caught up in Tim O'Brien's short stories in The Things They Carried...
There is a saying in the churches...
God is good
All the time
All the time
God is good

Nina Simone (good I miss her... she is in heaven now and I know God is just finger popping and clapping as she leads the angels singing) is belting out the blues here in my room) and the sun is smiling through the chilly morning hours... peace and love to all my Winter in America frieds

Stephanie Frieze said...

I love taking the train to Portland as long as I can arrange for the Coast Starlighter which has normal train seats. Amtrak has a Spanish train similar to the Sounder, with hard plastic seats that are not comfortable enough for a long trip.

A car trip with a good friend makes the miles fly by. Before you know it, you will be in Portland. :-)

Kim Thompson said...

Okay, I am late to the party, but snow driving for me? Forget it!

I drive all the time. I use freeways, I commuted to King County for years.

But when it comes to snow? I stay home. It took two nasty slides in my early years of driving. Fortunately, no one was hurt, nothing was smashed, but I figure, why contribute to the fray? I'll happily stay home, hide in my house, and stay stress free.

Lorraine Hart said...

This is a great opportunity to talk about car-pooling...something that doesn't seem to be happening very much, by looks of the HOV lane. I know so many folks like the feel of riding their own pony...but it's a brilliant way to fight back on those blinkety-blankety gas prices.

Stephanie Frieze said...

Lorraine brings up an excellent. Every time gas prices rise emails make the rounds exhorting people to either refrain from buying on a certain day to boycotting certain companies to "hurt them in their pocketbook." As Lorraine says, from the looks of the HOV lanes, it is our pocketbooks that need hitting.

If we care about our pocketbook and the entivronment we need to demand a new paradigm of energy and in the meantime carpool and make each and every trip count.

JosephMcG said...

I have to attend a meeting in Federal Way Wednesday morning... a friend has agreed to pick me up at my worksite at 6:30 am and take me there...
(usually I don't start moving until 6:15 but I'll be at work by six, that is for sure...