6:12:12 Do the gods exist?

Do the gods exist? That question comes up in All Things Shining by Hubert Dreyfus and Sean Dorrance Kelly, two erudite philosphers, who posit gods known by the Greeks during Homer's time are still with us. To answer the question, Dreyfus and Kelly assert, is a phenomenological proposition, not derivable from reason. I heartily agree.

A few decades ago, late at night on Washington's Birthday, I was riding a Honda Hawk CB400 motorcycle on the freeway, westbound out of Escondido. My close associate was passenger. Scattered headlights came the opposite way; otherwise, the freeway seemed deserted. Our approximate speed was 65 mph.

We'd ridden down from Santa Monica with a plan of spending the night in our sleeping bags at nearby Cuyamaca State Park. Snow covered the park grounds, so we looked for a motel room. None were available: A huge convention was underway in San Diego.

I was frustrated and decided to drive north, if not all the way to Santa Monica that night.

We'd gone fifteen, twenty minutes out of Escondido when the worst happened: The rear tire blew out instantly.


When a motorcycle tire blows, the wheel rim rides repeatedly on and off the tire carcass. So our Honda was fishtailing side to side and the handlebars I held swung left, right, left, right ....

Then something unexpected happened. A voice spoke. Not a true auditory hallucination "out there." But a voice I felt speaking through my body.

I was told, "Don't put on the brakes." (Note: I didn't know this a priori and can reason now, precipitous braking--front or rear wheel--on a fishtailing motorcycle could drop the bike for serious, possibly fatal injuries.)

As for my focus on those swinging handlebars, I was told, "Don't fight it, just go with it."

That's all I was told, but I felt a god there, guiding me. Calm, even wonder, came over me.

I looked right at the green iceplant climbing the freeway embankment and thought: Wow, going sixty is really fast.

With a keen sense of being helped, I knew I had to obey the voice and let the crippled motorcycle's momentum play itself out. Eventually, we slowed and I aimed for the next off-ramp, which sloped up to a stop sign.

We were pushing the motorcycle to the stop sign, when behind us pulled up the first vehicle travelling west we'd seen since the tire blew. Literally.

An ambulance.

I asked the paramedics if they'd seen us "back there." They said no. Their squawk box came on and they shot off.

I felt it a sign the god was thorough.

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The Cat at Light's End

Read Charlie Dickinson's story collection, The Cat at Light's End, as an ebook in these downloadable formats:

.mobi (Kindle)
.epub (most other readers)
.pdf (for PCs)

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