Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Blowout (04/28/11)
TITLE: The Cliffs
By Michael Throne
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It happened one late autumn evening, years ago, just before the collapse. I was cruising in my convertible down US 101, the cool ocean breeze blowing my face and hair. I didn’t have a care in the world as I raced my BMW through the straight-aways, barely hitting the brakes in time for the hairpin turns, then accelerating again. It was exhilarating; it was wonderful.
And I was blissfully unaware, as were we all.
It became habit. We got up in the morning, sped off to work, and returned at night to our beautiful homes and lifestyles, sweetly oblivious in our innocence or lack thereof.
It was hard to believe that anything mattered too much.
Maybe we were raised that way. Maybe the new world that our parents had struggled so hard to give us, a world without pain, without worries, maybe that world made us who we became. Maybe happy-go-lucky was the way God intended us to be.
Or maybe not.
I remember. It was a five speed on the floor, a straight six with turbo. I’d watch the ocean raging, the sun setting over the towering waves. I felt like I was flying. I felt like the world was at my beck and call. I felt immortal.
But I wasn’t. None of us were.
I still drive out on 101 when I need a break. And when I feel the cool ocean breeze, it reminds me of my carefree days, before my cancer took over, before I got old.
But I drive slower now. I pay attention.
It’s been twenty-three years since the onset of the second Great Depression. Folks are still rebuilding their lives. We’re happy to see fewer and fewer families living in the leaned-together shacks that became so commonplace on the outskirts of our cities and towns. People are working hard to get ahead, to start businesses, despite the fact that we have so little money to spend.
It was rainy, the night I went over. It was cold and dark, and the road was indifferent, as if it’d ever been anything but. I had the top up, but that was the only precaution I took as I sped through a turn at forty-five, hit the gas to sixty, then down-shifted into third while I hit the brakes for the next turn.
There are times that things happen quickly. There are times that they need to, to get our attention. We too often sit like frogs in a pot, unaware of the water boiling around us.
Cancer’s like that. I would have preferred a heart attack.
In retrospect, I can’t believe how foolish we were. So many divorces, so many children born to single mothers, and almost half of those mothers, those families, living in poverty. Our world, the world our parents had built, was breaking apart, bit by bit. We were all dying of cancer; we were all going way too fast.
Until God stopped us in our tracks.
There’s nothing good about a blowout. There’s nothing good about twisting, twirling in the air, bouncing down the side of a mountain, being smashed, pulverized, obliterated but by the grace of God, who caught me just in time.
But it gave me pause. It made me think.
We all began to think in the fall of 2012. As our economy began to crumble, there was an awakening, a spiritual renewal in our country. Women figured out that the sexual revolution was nothing more than degradation; men figured out that there were actual consequences to our actions. And we all understood, finally, how much our families mattered.
There was a time in our brave new world, after the first Depression, after our parents fought to stop Hitler, that we thought we were immortal. We cut around corners with a speed far beyond our ability to control, to even perceive the dangers, until the second depression blew our economy apart, sending us flying headlong into the depths.
It’s been painful. It’s been awful.
But as I rest atop mortality’s cliff, watching from a distance, our revival from a morally corrupt people, back to a nation beloved and blessed by God, back to a nation of excellence, I can see it all more clearly now.
It was a gift, a gift from God.
And it was wonderful.
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