The Old Red Barn
Years ago, driving on a two-lane highway from Decatur, Illinois to Springfield, Illinois, I found myself stuck behind a semi-truck. After several attempts to pass the truck failed, my patience was on the thin side. (So, I’m a ‘mover’ in life! Not necessarily a ‘shaker’.)
Impatience can lead to bad decisions!
On a long inclined straight-away I decided to make my pass, jammed the accelerator to the floor and went into the oncoming lane. Abreast of the Semi, I saw a fast-moving car coming into view over the distant rise. It was coming straight at me. The semi-truck seemed to pick up speed, and I remember thinking at the time the driver was being spiteful. I slammed on the brake, screeched, got back behind the Semi but going too fast to slow down. So, I was either to hit the truck’s rear-end or go off the road…I took the latter choice, went off onto a grassy knoll and slid sideways past the Semi, looked into the shocked driver’s eyes, and came to a stop by an old barbwire/wood post fence.
I turned off the ignition and sat stupefied, my whole body quaking from within my sweaty skin. Nerves scrambled, I looked across a green field of daisies and saw an old red barn…
Suddenly, déjὰ vu moments came: “My God! I’ve been here before!” Aloud, I mumbled to myself. That red barn, this land, has something to do with my life, not in its current human form, but, maybe, as a cow grazing in this green field of daisies…
These bits of thought brought deeper cognition: was it God’s plan that we entities were to keep incarnating until we reached some quintessential level of growth? Live our lives in other forms, perhaps, a bird, barn owl, cat, coyote, dog, rabbit, squirrel, an ape, a bear, different human forms? Was it God’s plan that, at some point in these incarnations, we would reach a level of purity at which point we would become part of the great light and glow with happiness forever?
I sat there and wondered how scientists would assess such thoughts? Surely, they would laugh and dismiss such notions as nonsense, silly aberrations of the mind that go against fundamental scientific inquiry. But, there, at that rotting fence post and barbwire, I sat and argued within myself: Wait, God gave me a mind to think my thoughts! Can I not be rational in an irrational world? Or, is it that I am irrational in a rational world? ‘Cogito ergo sum’! I think, therefore I am! Certainly, in this body I’m allowed to follow the course of my linking thoughts to the limited ability of my intelligence quotient.
I even remember laughing at myself as my body and mind came back more to the ‘real world’ in which I was living: cars passing on a hightway; business meeting to attend; a banquet to attend, et al.
Of course, I knew this near-death interruption of normalcy was likely a factor in this instance of mind skittering, but it was all so very real to me at that time, the strong sense of some force pulling me back in time. Those moments of neuronic madness spread before me my early life of family displacement, mobility, and emotional confusion, and I sat, only peripherily noticing the passing cars and its occupants staring at the strange car and driver. I’m sure it was but a momentary distraction for the passing cars and occupants, likely thinking someone just pulled off the highway for a nap.
For me, though, the incident brought so many questions and metaphysical thoughts. I sat there behind the wheel for thirty minutes feeling relief from what could have been a highway ‘death pass’ accident, trying to equate my near death to moments that spoke to me so clearly.
Billy Ray Chitwood – April 23, 2018
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