Crisis Reveals Human Potential
It was 20 degrees with freezing rain pelting the streets. At almost 8000 feet high in the mountains of Colorado ice storms are extremely rare. Colorado is usually blessed with dry powder and minimal ice, but not this night. Undetectable black ice covered everything. We later found out that the conditions were some of the worst ever witnessed.
We were returning home from a Halloween party with our two children. The first slip of the wheels coming out of the driveway was an early warning that the ride home would be challenging. We safely navigated the roads until we reached the apex of the hill leading to our home. Nestled on a north facing slope the road received the brunt of the ice storm before many other streets. It was truly like an ice skating rink. As we turned to descend the hill I put the car in its lowest gear and started to crawl down the hill.
It is impossible to describe the terror I felt as the car began to slide sideways. Even going only 2-3 miles per hour I was helpless to stop the car. Gravity pulled our family toward the 20 foot embankment that dropped off from the road. The few seconds that it took to roll down that hill were the longest of our lives.
When my head cleared we were upside down. Immediately, my wife Kathryn and I were calling for the kids to make sure they were o.k. In retrospect, the level of calmness that we displayed was for a vital reason. The front part of the roof was crushed in so Kathryn and I had to crawl out of an opening that was only a foot high, the remnants of her door.
In these brief moments we all found out what we were made of. We marshaled personal courage and resources that we previously did not know we possessed.
Our 11 year old daughter Taylor, who was riding in the third row seat, miraculously freed herself from her upside down perch and crawled over the back seat to rescue her brother. While she was battered, bruised, and bleeding, her only thought was to get her 5 year brother to safety. That she did.
In a heartbeat Kathryn was sprinting through the frozen knee high grass to get to a neighbors house to call 911. She did not seem to notice that her shoes had been knocked off in the crash. She felt no pain. Only later would she realize the level of agony that she must have endured as evidenced by her bruises and blood stained clothes.
I crawled around the car in order to reach the doors leading to our children. I grabbed the front door and pulled with all my might. I pulled so hard that the entire door handle came off in my hand. The door was crushed and would not open. I moved to the back door and again pulled with the strength that one would never normally possess. Again, the door handle came back with my hand, but this time the door opened with it.
In short order we were all huddled in the grass next to the car. We checked each other over and miraculously were spared any major injuries. While we were bruised, mentally and physically, we were blessed with the greatest gift of all- our lives.
I must admit as I write this that there are many emotions that I have had to revisit. Two major things are going to stick with me for the rest of my life. The first is to truly live each day to its fullest- Carpe Diem! Be thankful for all that you have and take the time to count your blessings. I know that I do so now with great zeal!
The second is that I am still amazed at the almost super human efforts that were demonstrated that night. This serves to inspire me in so many ways.
If we are capable of doing what may be perceived as "super human" feats in adrenaline packed situations, is there a way to tap into that potential? Believe me, I am not advocating going through what we did. I AM challenging myself, and hopefully others, to dispel with the self imposed limitations that may have shackled all of us. We are all capable of so much more than we may think. We possess a great deal more than our levels of confidence may be letting us demonstrate.
I was blessed enough to glimpse true human potential. I am convinced that we are all capable of finding ours.
I kept one of the door handles to serve as a constant reminder of my blessings and also what I am capable of. I now know more than ever what is possible!
Copyright 2010 A. Drayton Boylston