“The victim wasn’t wearing a seatbelt”

“The victim wasn’t wearing a seatbelt”

How many times have we read that line at the end of a fatal accident report? When you read it, your lips purse, and the thought goes through your head, “Why didn’t they just buckle up? It would have been so easy.” We put our seatbelts on every single time we get in the car for many reasons. It’s the law! It took a long time and thousands of deaths before people listened to the science and statistical data, and enacted mandatory seatbelt laws. Some of us remember the days when we were freely tossed into cars as youngsters. My sister has a permanent inch-long scar on the side of her face because she wasn’t wearing a seatbelt in the back of our Griswold station wagon. My mom had to slam on the brakes suddenly, and her tiny body was thrown into the back door. I don’t remember why she didn’t have it on, but I don’t think any of us six kids were wearing seatbelts. It wasn’t the norm. It was inconvenient, especially for large families like mine, to make sure everyone was strapped in all the time. And, even with the best made plans, kids sometimes take their seatbelts off for no good reason. But the fact is that seatbelts save lives. We know that now. So why do people still get into cars and skip this step?

I remember when I was a very young adult, my father told me something that I’ve never forgotten. I don’t remember the context of the conversation, but I seem to recall it being a somber moment. He told me that people don’t realize their mortality until sometime in their 20s. Something usually happens in their life, usually something deeply personal or near to them, and they have an “oh, shit!” moment. I remember the moment it happened to me. Like my father said, I was in my early 20s. I was driving, and nearly made a turn into oncoming traffic on a road I didn’t realize was a two-way street. When I realized my near mistake, I felt the sensation of my blood draining from my upper body. I felt the adrenaline rush. It took a long time for me to physically calm myself, and I’ve never detached the thought. I still think of it often when I’m driving. My mortality is very real. I am fragile.

Statistics show that the majority of car accidents do not result in fatalities. Fender benders happen several times a day in most urban areas. The use of seatbelts in those accidents is rarely relevant to fatalities simply because the rate of speed involved is usually fairly low.

But the fact is we don’t know when we are going to be in an accident, and THAT is why we buckle up. We might operate our car safely and drive the speed limit. We might be in total control of our vehicle. However, we don’t have control over other factors like our fellow drivers, weather, road conditions, animals, etc. The truth is we just don’t know what every moment will bring to our tiny little bubble of a world on any given day. So, JUST IN CASE, we take steps to protect ourselves from all dangers that are within our control.

Why is this important?

Because I’m so tired of reading about people who cannot take a simple step to prevent future death and suffering by donning a mask!

Look, sometimes I hate the way a seatbelt feels. I don’t like being restricted in my movements. I don’t know anyone who enjoys feeling like that. Yet, the fact is I CAN still move, and a seatbelt protects me. If I am safe, I am available for my children. I am here for my family and my future. The end.

No one likes the way a mask feels. It’s hot, it feels stifling and intrusive. I get it! I feel that way, too. The truth is you CAN still breathe, and a mask protects you AND me. If you find it stifling, try a different kind of mask. Ask someone else what works for them.

Many people are arguing that the majority of people who contract the virus recover from COVID-19, and therefore, they are not worried about being infected with it. Yes, that is true. However, I would argue that you just don’t know for sure if you will recover or the seriousness of your illness. There are cases of healthy young children and adults succumbing to this awful affliction. There are cases of healthy young children and adults getting over the virus, but having their health so adversely affected that they face months of difficult rehabilitation in order to fully recover.

You don’t know. Just like when you get in a car, as a driver or a passenger, you never know if you will be in an accident. You cannot predict the seriousness of an accident. No one gets in a car planning to get hurt or killed. No one plans to hit a deer. No one wakes up and goes to work planning to be hit by a drunk driver, or to skid on the ice or rain or oil, or to be pinned under tons of metal with crushed bones or organs, waiting to be cut free. So they put on a seatbelt – you know – just in case!

This virus is still very new. There is so much we have to learn about it and our human response to it. We aren’t sure of why certain people are affected while others aren’t. We don’t yet understand if survival equals immunity, especially since we are seeing repeat infections. The symptoms aren’t even consistent. It’s an enigma, still.

So, why take a chance? You never know. Why would you risk your health or your life or your family’s lives for convenience? How many relatives of car crash fatalities live every single day wondering why their loved one didn’t put on a seatbelt? Just wear the mask, just like you just wear the seatbelt. The seatbelt law was enacted to force people to save their OWN lives. When left to our own devices, humans often don’t do the right thing. If you don’t like being told what to do, just put on the mask while you have a choice and before it becomes a legislated issue. We will be stuck in this pandemic abyss until people either choose to do the right thing or until people are forced to do things they don’t like. Wouldn’t you rather have the choice?

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Gratitude…It’s Enough

If we all belong to the Infinite, then we need no further justification for our existence. Explaining the miracle of life is impossible for our limited genesis. The spark that lit us up from the moment we came to be has never been recreated from an empty human page. Therefore, we are part of what has always been from the beginning, created by a Power that we are incapable of wrapping our heads around other than knowing It exists. Continue reading

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Diva with Nancy Wilson

It’s hard to believe this is nearly 17 years old.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Forever, a legend, Ms. Nancy Wilson…

The Incomparable Nancy Wilson

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The Rinse Cycle

When I think back upon the misadventures of my life, I have been slow to attach labels to the things that I felt in various stages.  After all, once we attach a label to something, we rob ourselves of the freedom to describe it any other way.  We build a box around the thing to which no other identification shall seep.  Perhaps it’s easier for us to digest truths when we decide to understand them by giving them a name – an example of our very human need to be in control. Continue reading

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The Power of One

I began blogging in 2012 after several exchanges with a newly found friend via email as I toured the country with the Jazz Ambassadors. The correspondence started as friendly banter but quickly developed into a sort of personal discovery as we grew a friendship across the miles. While touring presented opportunities for growth and study, it also created an environment of danger for someone like me: a prisoner of abysmal loneliness in the absence of my family and despite the presence of my peers. My friend, based in New York City, encouraged the daily conversation that I needed at the time. I don’t think he knew what a simple gift he so selflessly provided. To say I was grateful would be a complete understatement, now. Continue reading

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In Full Retreat…

“The worst of life looks beautiful, as it slips away in full retreat.” – Bonnie Raitt

Winding down another tour with the Jazz Ambassadors, I’m reflecting on the roller coaster of emotions we’ve ridden since this trek began. Losing one’s spouse suddenly is not something that anyone ever anticipates, but that’s exactly what happened to one of our musical brothers in the hours after we left Fort Meade for this 37-day tour. Stolen from him in a moment, our dear colleague’s wife and soul mate was gone, and his future, forever altered. How does one recover from that? Continue reading

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29 DEC 2012 – New York City

Liesl Whitaker

I’m sitting in a small, one bedroom apartment on the West Side of Manhattan.  Snow is blowing by the window, giving the room an even cozier vibe.  I’m under blankets, in my jeans, truly just hanging out.  I just finished drying my hair after venturing through the weather in the name of nourishment.  I found a small Irish pub owned by an elderly Irish couple.  I was the first and only customer, as I’m sure this weather has bound many people to their living rooms.  I made a little small talk with the owners, sipped a pint of draught, and dined on her homemade chicken and vegetable soup, all in the glow of a dark room, lit only by the black and white movie coming from the TV behind the bar.  It was a truly cozy hour spent in the company of a lovely couple and Jimmy Stewart.  A real…

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I’m Certain of Nothing…

One of the perks of my jobs is being able to travel around the country, often coming into contact with my extended family along the way. This happened this past week in Mason City, Iowa.

My Mother, Barbara, was the fourth of nine children born to a poor farmer and his wife in Southern Illinois in the 1940s. As one can imagine, attention from the parents would be hard to come by with so many mouths in the house to feed, and young bodies to clothe constantly. I never met my maternal grandfather as he died suddenly when my mother was still a teenager. Coping with the stresses of the day, I’ve learned, was not a forte of my maternal grandmother. But she did so in her way, and all the children grew into responsible, healthy adults. Continue reading

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Loss, Love and Learning…

I have taken a hiatus from writing over the past 6 months, mainly because I have been absorbed in the observation of life.  As a person, I am always amazed at the things that I can observe if my eyes are open.  Now, as I tour with the Jazz Ambassadors, I have decided to put some thoughts down again.  They are a little scattered, perhaps, but they are what’s swirling currently through my mind.  I, like many people, try to find meaning in the events and accounts that take place in and around my life, to try to find the lesson in them – there is always something to learn if you just look for it – always.

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Now Do It!

Writing again on a Tuesday in Georgia from the bus.  Just a short excerpt to start a process, whatever that may be.  We are traveling to the next town where we will attempt to bring joy to the hearts of those who make the effort to be entertained.  It’s a job, and I am glad to have it.  I’m one of the few by percentage who can say I am getting paid to do what I love.  But today it is hard.  I am missing my family and home tremendously.  Life on the road has its challenges as well as its fulfillment.  Yet, I continue to repeat my mantra:  “I am lucky”, trying desperately to believe in it in every moment.  Grasping hard, even though the rope is slippery today. Continue reading

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