God helps those who help themselves, as goes the saying. But sometimes things happen, for good or for ill, that defy our understanding of cause and effect. They remind us that the best perspective on life is one of gratitude.

The stories below happened as described, I just changed people’s names.

The Hydroplane

We were going too fast. Jake drove, I rode shotgun, Jake’s brother Randy and his girlfriend were asleep in the back seat. We were heading up to Boston, Rt. 24 northbound. It was late evening, torrential rain, and all you could see was the red smear of the taillights ahead.

There was no prelude, the spin-out was instantaneous. As the car spun with zero apparent resistance over the layer of water I saw the headlights of oncoming cars, then nothing as the we spun away, then headlights again but much closer. I braced for my rib cage popping on impact (that’s what flashed through my head) and hoped that it doesn’t hurt too badly. Then white light flooded everything.

We are in the left lane, facing the wrong way, the engine stalled. No other cars around. Sheets of rainwater cascade down the windshield. Jake starts the engine, turns the car back north and chastened, we continue at a cautious speed with blinkers on. Randy and his girl are now awake and are asking what happened. Jake and I are in a state in which it is difficult to speak. He said: “I don’t know. The car hydroplaned and I was tapping the brake to get control of it.” “What about the other cars?” I asked, “they were right on us.” Jake says “I don’t know.”

The Trampoline

My droogs and I storm a backyard trampoline. Randy (same one) jumps around erratically and lands next to me just as I was launching myself into a flip, causing me to lose control of my jump. Mid-air I twisted my torso and landed on my shoulders. Legs swung hard in a wrong direction and a lightning bolt shot down the backs of my legs. I crawled off the trampoline and stooped over, shuffled toward my car and sat there for about an hour, smoking one cigarette after another until the rhythmic pulses firing down from my lumbar vertebrae quieted down.

During that same time, my sister was spending a week at the beach with her boyfriend. When she came back, I asked her how it was. “Awful!” she said, “on the first day I was picking up a seashell and this pain just shot down my lower back. Keith had to carry me home and I was on the couch for the next bunch of days because I couldn’t walk!” Then I remembered my trampoline mishap and told her about it. When comparing notes, we were startled to discover that my incident and hers happened on the same day, and quite likely at the very same time. I believe that through some mechanism or agency she absorbed just enough of my trauma to keep me from injuring my spinal chord.


What a year. We’re either the world’s luckiest bastards, or God is with us.

15 thoughts on “Miracles

  1. The roads here iced over for the first time last night, and they are in a condition. And it is a big traffic day, with Thanksgiving tomorrow, though no longer do people travel over the river and through the woods (back to Grandma’s) like they used to. But there will be a lot of people sliding off the roads.

    It has been the latest hard freeze in over 100 years, since 1907 or something. It just happened this week, three days ago; but this used to be part of Zone 4, which once meant a hard freeze in September.

    But there is snow on the ground now, and so things are different. It suggests a phrase from that famous book The Culture of Narcissism, which phrase and book both are topical to the cultural studies of the AR and its associates: “the consolations of old age.”

    Which phrase was not elaborated explicitly, but suggested as a counterweight to the perspective of this our culture of narcissism. The suggestion was that the consolations of old age are missing from a culture of narcissism.

    On the personal, such thoughts are an admonition.

  2. I hardly read at all anymore, other than the internet. Perhaps the consolations of old age will include the reading of books.

    The last two books i reads were the aforementioned, and then How to be Your Dog’s Best Friend, which also is a famous title, by the Monks of New Skeet who are in New England.

    They too are a counterweight to this culture of frivolous distraction, with their message of caring for your dog with respect for its essential dog-ness.

  3. Pingback: Miracles | Reaction Times

  4. Randomly, some lyrics from Bruce Springsteen. Back when, for a few years, he was the greatest songwriter in the world. Of course, he turned into a typical liberal fool, while his old neighborhood — the people he used to sing about — went big for Trump. But you can’t dismiss the work of the past because of the infidelities of the present.

    Herewith words from “Thunder Road,” for my money the greatest rock song ever recorded.

    You can hide ‘neath your covers and study your pain
    Make crosses from your lovers, throw roses in the rain
    Waste your summer praying in vain for a savior to rise from these streets
    Well now I’m no hero, that’s understood
    All the redemption I can offer, girl, is beneath this dirty hood
    With a chance to make it good somehow
    Hey what else can we do now
    Except roll down the window and let the wind blow back your hair
    Well the night’s bustin’ open, these two lanes will take us anywhere
    We got one last chance to make it real
    To trade in these wings on some wheels
    Climb in back, heaven’s waiting down on the tracks


    And then some words from Wallace Stevens. Like Sub_Elk, I’m drunk posting tonight. My mood’s dark, even in these days when, perhaps, the sun in rising.

    Happy Thanksgiving, friends.

    Once it was, the repose of night,
    Was a place, strong place, in which to sleep.
    It is shaken now. It will burst into flames,
    Either now or tomorrow or the day after that.

  5. More Springsteen. It amazes me that a man who wrote these words could turn into a Prog cuck. This is an anthem for the Trumpening.

    Well there’s a dark cloud rising from the desert floor
    I packed my bags and I’m heading straight into the storm
    Gonna be a twister to blow everything down
    That ain’t got the faith to stand its ground
    Blow away the dreams that tear you apart
    Blow away the dreams that break your heart
    Blow away the lies that leave you nothing but lost and brokenhearted

    Well the dogs on Main Street howl
    ’cause they understand
    If I could take one moment into my hands
    Mister I ain’t a boy, no I’m a man
    And I believe in a promised land
    And I believe in a promised land
    And I believe in a promised land

  6. Hey, peterike; happy thanksgiving!

    I too have read Stevens; in fact, I love his poetry.

    Here’s a fragment of his from one of my favorites; in the spirit of holiday, giving, I offer this from 13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,” a poem which touches upon my slightly melancholy holiday mood. (since tonight kicks off the holiday season, ‘happy holidays’ to all my grotesque and homely—–but still fun and bright!—–raaaycist cohorts here at PA’s blog! 🙂 )

    A man and a woman
    Are one.
    A man and a woman and a blackbird
    Are one.

    I do not know which to prefer,
    The beauty of inflections
    Or the beauty of innuendos,
    The blackbird whistling
    Or just after.

    Icicles filled the long window
    With barbaric glass.
    The shadow of the blackbird
    Crossed it, to and fro.
    The mood
    Traced in the shadow
    An indecipherable cause. “

  7. I’ve also experienced inexplicable miracles. God really exists.

    Enjoy the Thanksgiving, fellas. Another timely feast. Make sure to make some potent memories stick from this one – history will study our time with fascination. As for Wallace Stevens, I got a lot out of his ‘Relations Between Poetry and Painting’ at one point. His poetry I still go through from time to time. Those drizzly aesthetics of abstraction I find alluring — but like a MIles Davis I wonder where that urbane bull is being led. It’s certainly not toward the corridas de toros. I fear it’s toward the contemporary gallery – no place for a bull. Cheers

  8. Indeed God is with us. A few personal career successes proved it to me this year.

    Elk, the Culture of Narcissism by Christopher Lasch is a great book with much wisdom and insight for our current predicament. The key takeaway for me was that in the original myth it wasn’t that Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection in the pond, it was that he did not recognise his own reflection, and could not look away from the mysterious beauty. He was empty inside. He had no knowledge of himself, no core, and that led to his destruction. The whole modern world comspires to conceal from us who we are.

    Happy Thanksgiving from a warm country. N

  9. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! I love you goys. And thank you, PA, for your writing and this blog. A few of you have given me serious food for thought in recent months and have prompted some changes. Thank you.

  10. In fairness to Springsteen, he was pretty low key this election. He did do a small concert in Philadelphia, in support of Hillary, but that was about it.

  11. I recall seeing (and perhaps reading, thought not all of it) “culture of Narcissim’ while i was in high school in the mid-’80s.

    Am I mis-remembering? Is it really that old?

  12. Onlyinrussia@crazyinrussia on twatter regularly reminds me that life in the modern world is a tenuous thing

  13. I’ve experienced one of what I think was a bona fide miracle – to be accurate, I think I met an angel. Of course I can’t be sure. What happened was that my friends were all high as kites using drugs, and a “neighbour” (whom I never saw before or since), without going into detail, warned me about where the police were waiting doing random stops.

    I’ve also experienced one dream that I think was legitimately from God, which occurred some months after my father’s suicide, and which I still remember vividly.

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