Got the call at 7:50 this morning and knew something was wrong. No one calls when I’m getting the kids ready for school unless it’s bad news. And there was no possible way my 14 yr old son could have made it to school on his bike so fast.
Could hardly hear the woman over the sound of traffic digitally amplified through her cell, informing me my son had been in a bike accident. I finally got that he was pretty badly battered, but conscious. He was bleeding, she said, quite a bit, but seemed in tact. The moment she said where they were, and before she finished speaking, I put the phone on the kitchen table, called for my 7 yr old daughter to come with me and we got in my car and went to my son a few blocks away.
He was sitting on the curb when I pulled up behind the car I later found out belonged to the good folks who stopped to help my kid. They were in traffic and saw him on the side of the road crying and bleeding, his bike crumpled in front of him. I managed to get out of my car without faltering, and my son managed to stand so we could hug, feel each other, body to body, soul to soul.
“I don’t know what happened,” my newly taller than me kid cried into my shoulder. “I didn’t see the trash can. They’re usually out tomorrow. I wasn’t expecting them today. I didn’t see it.”
His face was a bloody mess, bleeding across his chin, his upper lip, his shoulder, scrapes on his arm. He couldn’t move his left hand. I didn’t cry. He needed me to be strong. God, if he only knew how fragile and afraid I felt right then. The idea of him leaning on me was on par with absurd in my head. But I didn’t cry. I thanked the woman and the man she was with probably fifty times in the space of five minutes. The man graciously put my son’s bike in my car as I helped my kid in, and we went home.
My son walked away from the bike accident with a fractured wrist, abrasions, a loose front tooth that the dentist thinks will be fine down the line. In fact, in time, he should heal just fine. He will. I won’t.
Went out to my office once my son was squared away and cried my eyes out. If I could have prayed, I would have right then, and did thank dumb luck all day, and even still as I write this, and forever forward, my kid wasn’t killed, or injured beyond repair for life. He was careless, and the laws of physics that say we can’t move through solid objects came into play. I know this law to be true, I believe in this law because I’ve spent a lifetime witnessing it. I’ve never seen anyone walk through walls, or pass a hand through glass, except magicians, which we all know is an illusion, a trick of eye, not physically possible.
There have been many times, like this bike accident with my son, I’ve wished I could believe in something, anything to justify events other than just entropy, but I’ve always been an empiricist—show me, don’t tell me because I won’t believe you. On the outside of our religious world, at times lonely to the extreme, I went searching in my early twenties for an ideology to be a part of, and that’s when I discovered Taoism.
I am not a Taoist. I am an atheist, and do not believe in any ‘supreme ultimate.’ And though I’ve read the Tao Te Ching through, many times, I understand little of the poems of Laozi. It was through Taoism, however, I first heard of the concept of yin/yang. 陰陽
The Taijitu ☯, the commonly known yin/yang symbol from 14th century China, represents a philosophy first seen in the Tao Te Ching in the 4th century BC, though many believe the concept of opposites in harmony define balance existed many millennium before the writings. Black/white, day/night, male/female, dull/bright—in yin/yang ideology, with everything there is an equal opposite occupying the same space, intertwining, even mixing, actualizing each other’s existence, and keeping the natural balance of the whole, that which is all.
Heady, to be sure, but not when you break it down to what we experience daily. We can’t really know happy never having felt sad. Can’t have a bottom without a top. There is no such thing as right with no wrong (or left..; ). These are abstracted, philosophical truths. Just like physics, yin/yang’s empirical proofs play out in every aspect of living, which can never be fully appreciated without death.
While I believe the yin/yang philosophy to be truth, a basic physical and metaphysical law, and understand the balance interconnected opposites provide, I can’t help resent this fundamental aspect of natures structure in times like this morning when my child’s life is put on the line. The cruelest, sickest, most twisted opposites of all is the spectacular, magnificent, breath-taking, electric-connection we get to feel for our kids, and the choking, terrifying, heart-stopping fear of losing them— the yin/yang of love and loss.
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