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The Phenomenology of a Fender Bender

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When's the last time you were in a car wreck? Not a killer car wreck you understand, just a fender bender, just one of those slam/bam, this-is-what-it-feels-like-to-be-a-rag-doll mini death.

And it IS a mini death and no mistake. For example, let's say you've been "rear ended" (you know, punished for being a better driver than the jerk behind you). But who cares about the rights or wrongs of the situation when you've just been reminded that you too are the "other guy" and your unique, once in a lifetime body can be squashed like an empty milk carton.

How such moments challenge our spirits! Do we say, "Life is a b*tch, and then you die?" It's tempting to think that, isn't it, since the death part of that mantra has suddenly become uncomfortably vivid.

And let's not forget the aches and pains, miscellaneous injuries, and minor (if you're lucky) concussion. In short, that bucket of misery which pours into your life right after the accident. Shades of Lennon's, "Life is what really happens to us while we're making other plans."

However, the thing about fender benders is that they don't just injure our bodies and wallets; they also alter our take on reality. This has to do with having our faces rubbed in "existential vulnerability". Hey, what happened to that force field which was supposed to be around MY life?

But doesn't it also have to do with the "suddenness" of accidents (car wrecks or otherwise)? Why bother to keep looking into the windshield future when there's always the possibility you're going to be blind sided or rear ended anyway?

Which brings to mind all those near miss meteors we keep hearing about. Now that's some SERIOUS blind siding! April Fool, here I come -- and bye, bye civilization.

So what do we do with gorp like this? Keep frantically waving around our flashlights of purpose and hoping for the best? Hoping that we can "do an intervention" on the unanticipated? Hmmm.

And while we're indulging in entertainment quotes, here's another one from the movie Lawrence of Arabia in which hollow-eyed Lawrence (Peter O'Toole) muses, "We can do what we want, but we can't want what we want." Now what the does THAT mean?

It means Lennon's aphorism leaves out the important truth that we don't get to plan the plans. Sure, you can plan you life until your eyes get crossed, but the source/ground of planning is sublimely beyond the reach of plans and goals.

After all, a jury can "deliberate" ad nauseam, but the deliberating itself is always spontaneous. This has been said before, but WE DON'T DECIDE DECISIONS (just as we don't "think thoughts"). This is obvious. All it takes is a moment of awareness.

So car accidents, meteor whizzing, decision making, thinking, dying, etc., etc., are all variations of spontaneity, i.e., the self activity of that which is already the case. When will we finally outgrow our hand me down, either/or straitjacket of randomness (vs.) determinism?

Thus, if creativity is the true dynamic of things, isn't it about time for a new paradigm of truth which transcends the limitations of both business as usual science and religion? Look at the world. Look at your life. Time to downshift.
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A liberal American, PhD mathematician, bipedal Earthling.
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