Gary turned 50 last year. Since 2006 his day job has been as the PM, SE, and TD at the ATLAS Black Box Theatre on the CU campus in Boulder. He and I have known each other since our stagehand days (early 90’s) at Macky Auditorium. He is a musician and plays guitar, banjo and stand up bass. He is a locally famous monitor engineer. He works the Boulder Theatre, the Fox Theatre, for E-Town, and for most of the Music Festivals at the outdoor summer venue in Lyons. He climbs, he skis, he hikes, he bikes. He lost his Lyon’s home to the 2013 flood and acting as his own GC built himself a new one after tearing down his old one. So one would say he is a remarkably competent and accomplished man.

Gary recently had a serious motorcycle accident. Like so many motorcycle incidents it happened when a person in a car made a poor decision. He recently put this on his Facebook page.

“I’ve always wanted scientific proof of any small speculation that something behaved or appeared to be in one definite form or another. Until I lay bleeding out on a hot summer highway, feeling the soft curtain between this life and what’s next slowly brushing on my forehead as I screamed out “Jesus” and “fuck” and “goddamn” to anyone and no one. it was like a meditation, a really long meditation with the warm, wet feeling of my blood enveloping my leg while time expanded to fill all that I had, and all I had to do was stay awake, don’t let sleep overcome and close my eyes for the last time. Now, my eyes see more clearly than ever before, a clairvoyance that reveals much before words are heard or spoken, motions seen and emotions felt.”

Most motorcycle riders can relate stories of near-death encounters, though not all result in injury. I have had a few. Once I did a left turn, at a T-Junction at a rural crossroads in Oregon into the path of an oncoming semi-truck. It was the end of a long day of cross country tour riding and I was tired. The truck was coming towards the intersection faster than I had estimated it to be. I was able to roll on enough throttle such that the truck driver did not have to hit the brakes but I did get a blast from his horn. I was shaken, mostly due to realizing how dumb a move I had just made. Driving when tired or distracted when in a car is one thing….

On a bike (motorized or not) one is always closer to death than in a car. We know this and most riders compensate, but sometimes it does not matter how defensive you are. Also at a T-intersection, Gary was hit by a car whose driver possibly never saw him, though he remembers seeing the car waiting to turn left and southbound onto the highway on which Gary was traveling north. Gary was behind a pickup truck pulling a trailer which slowed down and moved into a right turn lane. The driver of the car pulled out onto the highway and hit Gary broadside according to the police report. It was 5pm on an August afternoon. His right leg was crushed between the car and his motorcycle.

A lot has been said about what’s on the other side. For Gary, he told everyone in the aftermath he was saved by a local man, trained as an EMT, who witnessed the accident and came to his aid, applying a tourniquet to staunch the flow from the severed artery in his right leg, saving his life.

Back before I knew better of it I concluded (being a 10-year-old and already somewhat of a romantic ) that when Hemingway took his own life at the age of 61 he had done so because being a man who had lived so fully he was curious to experience the last great adventure and see what all the fuss was about. Perhaps. It is known it was due mostly to his various age-related illnesses, including being treated with electro-shock towards the end. Maybe he was not willing to live as an invalid. He was almost certainly not interested in living without full use of his faculties, including his mind.

Gary has seen a glimpse of that adventure. Whatever the long term result of his injury he will figure it out. We who know him believe he won’t let it prevent him from continuing to do stuff. He likes doing stuff too much, and he has a lot of different stuff he likes to do. He will likely find more stuff to do, because that is how he operates.

In another post on this site I have discussed my own ideas of the other side, which tend towards my first thought about Hemingway’s reason. It either is or is not our last great adventure and like everyone else I am most curious. Unlike him I tend to dream about how to go out gracefully, rather than with the violence of a gun. For a long time I have been fond of Lyle Lovett’s take on a good finish, from his song “She’s Already Made Up Her Mind”:

So my friend carry me down to the water’s edge
And then sail with me out to that ocean deep
And let me go easy down over the side
And remember me to her

Put some stones in my pockets and lower me down. I hope that when my time comes I will look forward to it simply because one way or another the question will get resolved. I like that idea.

Author: RJMS

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