The Allure of Crashing

Dear Readers: You're about to learn something about me.

One and a half years ago, give or take a few months--specifics are for suckers (i.e., me), so I won't bore you with them--I drove from beautiful Seattle, WA to beautiful Savannah, GA. (I only live in cities which begin with the letter S, as a rule.)

While en route, I found myself regularly fantasizing about crashing my truck. Driving down any given road, I would randomly find myself imagining very serious traffic accidents in their entirety, from the point at which I would lose control of my truck to the point at which my truck would come to rest upside-down in a field or half-buried in a marsh or sinking in a roadside pond. The word "fantasy" is not misplaced; none of these daydreams were upsetting. A little disconcerting, maybe, but never upsetting.

It somehow seemed very natural to me that my truck should lose traction and skid off the road, down an embankment or off a bridge. In my mind, I would visualize the entirety of its roll, or the trajectory from interstate overpass to watery splashdown. Always in the first-person, too, the view from the driver's seat. And all the while, I felt completely calm, letting it happen, knowing that there was nothing more for me to do, that I had no hope of stopping the wreck.

When the vehicle reached its terminus my fantasy would end and I would continue driving straight down the road, just as I had been the whole time. And despite all the intensity and drama of the fantasy, I would remain calmly seated, inexplicably unaffected.

It has started to happen again, and I still don't mind. In fact, I think I've got it figured out.

I've come to believe that my imagined crashes are manifestations of my repressed desire for forced renewal. (I told you you'd be learning something.) When something irreversibly destructive happens, something completely crushing and inescapable, one has no choice but to come to grips with the situation and move on. Of course the first natural reaction is to struggle to bring the situation under control, but in some instances that option simply disappears.

If I were to run my truck off the road, for example--destroying it completely--I would have no choice but to accept that it had happened, lick my wounds, and go on with my life. Probably I would realize at some point during the roll or slide or collision that hope for recovery or rescue was lost. That my truck was already dead, and that it was time to start thinking of myself.

Of course, when I call this a "repressed desire," I certainly don't mean that I want to literally crash my truck. But I think maybe I wouldn't mind if I crashed my life. I'm not so unhappy with my current situation, but I'm not so happy, either. And when you've got yourself going in one direction or another, it can be difficult to force yourself to stop and reexamine exactly why you're doing it.

But a crash--a crash doesn't allow you to reason. You react to the situation, and once it becomes clear that you'll have to total your life in order to save yourself, everything kind of falls into place. A crash forces you to take stock of your situation and make a clean-slate decision about what to do next.

To me, there's something very appealing about having no choice but to start all over. Of course the thought of having something you've worked so hard for and become so attached to taken away is terrifying. But if you're able to eventually accept the loss and pick yourself up, the result can be unbelievably liberating. What better way to refine your life than to be reminded of its fragility, and the fragility of all its various parts.

Maybe the truck crash is a poor example. I don't know. Most people who know me well will know that I'm pretty attached to my truck, so to lose it unexpectedly would kind of break my heart. It ain't fancy, but it's been good to me. And, anyway, the story about the imagined crashes is true. I did(/do) daydream about crashing my truck. I was stressed out; still am, I guess. Cut me some slack. (To everyone I drive around: don't worry. I'm still a good driver.)

I'm not totally sure exactly where I mean to go with this. I mostly just wanted to get it out of my head, I suppose. But to anyone who reads this and feels like their life is about to go up in flames, know that it's okay. You won't always be able to keep each wheel on the road. Save yourself. So long as you're still alive, there is still hope. You can always start over.

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