Two years ago at the end of February I was driving through the Italian Alps only 10km from my destination when my car hit a patch of ice and began to slide. On my left was the edge of the mountain. On my right was a wall.
I did everything I was taught in driver’s ed: don’t hit the breaks, don’t accelerate, don’t turn the wheel, and keep driving in the direction the car is already going. The only problem was that my car was driving itself toward the edge of the mountain. I had a plan though. There was a small patch of gravel, about 4 to 5 meters wide right before the road fell off into nothing. I was going to try to regain control of the car in that moment.
One second had passed.
I hit the gravel, felt the car grip the ground, and I gently turned the wheel to the right. The one thing taught in driver’s ed that I had failed to remember was: when you think you have control of your sliding car, you don’t. My car suddenly spun 90 degrees to the right, and I was now facing the wall.
Another second passed.
In that moment everything slowed down as if time were the rubber band of a slingshot being prepared to launch. I saw the world outside my car moving fast while on the inside everything was quiet, even still.
I experienced the next half a second as if it was 30 seconds, and I had the following conversation with myself: “I am approaching a wall…or is the wall approaching me? I can’t be about to have a car accident…. Should I try to turn the car one more time?” In that moment I had a choice to make. I either made one last attempt to avoid the crash, possibly putting myself in greater danger, or I just let the car hit the wall. I chose the wall.
My windshield wipers came up, cleared my windshield of snow so I could clearly see the wall, and as they touched down, my car crashed. What happened after that was fascinating to me, and I sum it up in a poem that I wrote after the accident that I’ve inserted at the end of the post.
There are always plenty of warning signs from our body and from our environment that help us determine if a situation is good for us or not. There are many situations that we cannot abandon, but there are always small changes we can make in favor of our health. Sometimes it’s a simple as taking your lunch break without your phone, delegating a task to another person, or making a “not-to-do” list that has all the things on it that can wait until tomorrow or another day to be done.
Take the metaphors that show up in your life literally. It’s no accident that I crashed into that wall. It wasn’t my car that was spinning out of control, it was my life, and in my case it took a literal wall to stop me since I didn’t listen to the warning signs that were there way before the accident. Now when my life gets hectic or when my body begins to ache, I stop what I’m doing, excuse myself for a moment, and I either take a walk, take a nap, or just sit still for a couple of minutes until I get some perspective and calm down. Nothing is ever so pressing that it can’t wait a while, especially when your life is on the line.
I only knew to turn the car off
because it was smoking,
and that’s not normal.
Check your legs.
Are your legs okay?
The airbag was still deflating.
I opened the door,
mountain air in,
I turned at the waist,
unlatching the seatbelt
as my legs came into view.
They are there, I said to myself.
see if you can walk.
No pain doesn’t mean you can walk.
My glasses were no longer on my face
and everything was perfectly clear,
my breath hot in the cold, snowy night
my feet now on the pavement.
A car stopped behind me.
Are you okay? I heard in the distance.
I don’t know yet, I said. I need to stand to know.
I pushed myself up into the night,
out of the still car
onto the curved road where I
spun out of control on black ice,
and I could still stand.
I’m okay, I said. I’m just in shock.
Blood pumped and fed my adrenaline.
Six times I walked around the car
in ceaseless worry about the snow
getting in the shattered windows
before I saw the car.
Oh my god. I’ve had an accident.
My feet were wet now.
I handed my wallet to the police
because I had lost the delicacy in my fingers
to pull out my license on my own.
I watched the traffic move
around my car.
It wasn’t long before the show ended.
My car was towed,
my belongings were in another car,
I was given a clean driving bill
because I “did it all by myself,”
hurt no one, not drunk, not speeding,
honestly shocked, and nice.
I did the last ten kilometers
wrapped in a blanket
in the back seat of a minivan
with my hands in my lap,
my belongings at my feet,
watching the snow fall,
melt on the glass,
and turn to ice.
Author: Samantha Lotti
Samantha Lotti is the founder of Biodynamic Health and creator of Body Compassing. She is a certified and registered Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapist (BCST, RCST®), licensed acupuncturist (L.Ac.) and board certified herbalist in Oak Park, Illinois. A personal back injury brought Samantha to biodynamic craniosacral therapy and ignited her interest in a variety of healing modalities.