Think and Live

Panic stole my ability to think logically.

Driving home late at night, I was on a parkway heading north. In a few  miles, the parkway would T and I would make the left turn onto the road that would take me to familiar neighborhoods and eventually, my own house.

Except for one other driver I was alone on the road. But this crazy driver would not let me get over to the left hand lane. I signaled to move left, but he moved level to my car and blocked me.

I slowed down. He slowed.

I sped up and signaled again. He sped up and blocked me again. For three miles the man terrorized me.

At one point I glanced into his car and saw the man laughing gleefully at my frightened face.

When I saw him laugh, anger took over. My fear disappeared, replaced by grim determination. And with that determination, logic and a clear mind returned.

Cell phones didn’t exist then. These were the days of phone booths.

I sure didn’t want the man to follow me to a parking lot so I could stand outside my car and phone the police.

I had no gun, no weapon.

But the man drove an old, sputtering car and I had a new, powerful car.

I wasn’t one to speed, but as they say, desperate times call for desperate measures.

I gunned my engine to 75 miles per hour. He matched my speed.

80 miles per hour. Still with me.

90. Sputtering

95. Falling behind.

I moved to the left lane and decelerated to a cautious 45 miles per hour a scant 500 yards before the turn off.

In my rear-view window I saw the stalker give up and turn the opposite direction at the T.

I was still shaking with adrenaline when I turned into my driveway and pulled safely into the garage.

What were the crazy guys intentions? Just getting his jollies frightening a young woman? Maybe he meant to force my car off the road, or corral me down an unfamiliar road?

To this day, twenty years later, my stomach still tightens when I remember my strange encounter.

Lately I’ve been reading a book called Deep Survival, by Laurance Gonzales. The author states that a full 90 percent of people lose their heads in an emergency and the resulting emotion causes them to make foolish, often deadly decisions.

In connecting that statement with my experience late at night and the stalker, I wonder. If I hadn’t seen the man’s delight in my distress and gotten angry, what would I have done? Would I have let him continue to control me?

I’ve taken a compilation of some of my other youthful experiences and poured them into one of my suspense characters. She, too, finally loses her fear and gets the gumption to fight back against her own villain. Something we can all relate to.

The Creator, our great and glorious God has endowed us with incredible abilities. He has given us instinct, emotion, logic, will.

Each of these endowments enable us to survive. The ability to jump back from the rattle of a rattlesnake before we even consciously recognize danger is amazing. Thank God for the amygdala in our brains.

But thank God, also, for the brain’s neocortex, and the ability to calm our brains, to think before reacting emotionally. My ability to step out of my crisis for only a few seconds gave me enough time to reason out my situation and make an intelligent decision.

Psalm 139 says: I praise you (God) because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

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