Wednesday, December 20, 2006


when i was a little girl i imagined myself a survivor. if i read a story of some such personal struggle or crisis, i always identified with the survivor, even if there was only one and everyone else in the story perished. i could not not see it that way. i survived.

as i grew older and began to drive a car (and even when i boarded a plane), i always took a moment of prayer or meditation to ask for protection. i envisioned a shield about me that protected me and everyone else with me and then i prayed three words: "no permanent damage." (i tell you this because this is how i have lived this story.) what i meant when i said my three words was that should any trouble come my way, any accident, there would be no permanent consequences. a broken leg is not permanent damage, for it would heal. losing a spleen or puncturing a lung...this would be permanent damage. i envisioned a shield and spoke the words "no permanent damange." in my own car i would say it aloud; on an airplane i whispered it quietly into my window (for i usually have a window seat). i did not say these words in fear; i spoke them with trust, and then went about my business.

when i was 21 years old, or perhaps 22, i was in an accident. my sister was driving; i had my newborn baby son in my arms (this was just before carseats became easily available and legally required) and my infant daughter in the back seat. a gasoline tanker truck driver fell asleep at the wheel and plowed into the car we were in. our car was flipped around and thrown into the highway headed in the opposite direction (with oncoming traffic headed into us), barely missing throwing us over an embankment and onto another highway below. the car was totally destroyed. amazingly, not only did all speeding oncoming traffic manage to stop before hitting us, but every one of us in the car walked out without any damage. (i was a nervous nilly on the highways for a while, though.) no permanent damage.

years later i was driving my daughter to college, all of her belongings in the car, as she was moving into her freshman year, when a woman on the highway lost control and crashed into us. every window in that car was broken and the car was totaled but we walked out without so much as a scratch (my daughter went to college with bits and pieces of glass in everything she owned). no permanent damage. i continued my visualization and my three-word prayer every time i started to drive and every time i boarded a plane.

one time i was driving in the midwest in the middle of a snowstorm, my being in the far left lane and an 18-wheeler to my right, when the 18-wheeler started coming into my lane. he was huge and already halfway into my lane, and there was no place for me to go (if i went any further left i would go over an embankment). the roads were slick with newfallen snow. in a split second i anticipated the sound of crunching metal. suddenly and immediately the truck was back in his lane and i was safe, though i never saw him retrace his path. unexpectedly i was safe and tears slid down my face as though a faucet had turned on. i was safe and i couldn't explain how. i simply cried and gave thanks. no permanent damage.

one more time i was in an accident due to another driver losing control, my car totaled, no injuries to me or to my family. (a fourth time my car was totaled but in this one i was not in the car at the time. i cried when i stood in the mechanic's shop and viewed my car in a thousand pieces, but i could only be grateful for my wellness.)

none of the accidents were due to my driving and never did my insurance increase. after the last accident, though, i changed my prayer for a while to two words: "no damage." (it was the least i could do for my insurance company.)

i have sometimes said i am protected by an angel in my car (that protection going to those who drive my car even without my presence). i have no way of proving, or even any way of knowing, if there is such an angel. i don't know if perhaps my visualizations or my affirmations created my subsequent reality. i offer no interpretation or belief to accompany my story. i simply want to tell you how this has played out for me. and i express my gratitude to the Universe for the survival i have known.

photography by permission

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