And I Never Looked At Life the Same

I looked down at my hands, pasty and contorted into gruesome, unnatural shapes, like a 90 yr old woman with arthritis who misses needlepoint most of all.

They were cramped from white-knuckling the steering wheel for the past 2 hours. I was glad that the kids had been asleep in the backseat for so long because several times I squealed and jumped when puddles of water from passing vehicles flooded over the windshield, blinding me, the same as it did when I wrecked my previous car a year prior.

The other cars became “something not to hit” and the slowly creeping semi trucks became obstacles that drove me to endure the sure death embedded in the wave of water they left in their wake, with my windshield wipers maniacally swishing back and forth in a panic, desperately trying to clear my view and unapologetically making my heart beat faster while I waited to verify that I had not, in fact, been pushed off of the cliff and into the Columbia River.

I didn’t have time to get annoyed that those trucks were hugging the safe side of the road that night. Surely on rainy nights like this, All big rig truck drivers in Oregon would feel inclined to band together keep little Prius drivers like me safe and reverse the whole slow lane-fast lane paradigm. At least on eastbound routes. Be slow on the scary side of the road, please. Be big and tall over there, by the edge of the cliff so that little old me can hug the mountain and if I happen to lose control, catch me, OK bro.

After one very surfable wave blanketed my little car and my life flashed before me, I wondered if I were to die on this road tonight, what would be said about me? Surely my ex husband would call it suicide. He was always quick to chalk everything I did up to some mental health deficiency. As if it was crazy to hate being married to him. The death of me and my kids that night would surely prove to him that divorce was a bad idea. I wondered if my boyfriend would be notified. None of “my people” really know much about him. Come to think of it, I don’t have a lot of people that I confide in. (Also, I think that might be the first time I have typed out those words; “my boyfriend” it sounds so juvenile.) I guess my friend Karri could tell him. And my children, what futures will be robbed of the world tonight when we go tumbling down into the river? Also, does drowning hurt? Or would we even make it all the way down the cliff?

Yes, I have just spent the past two hours driving down the freeway listening to The Moth podcast. These are short stories from the lives of the storytellers. I like how one of the announcers said that “The moral of each of these stories is ‘And I never looked at life the same again after that.”

I don’t think of myself as a storywriter or a storyteller. I write nonfiction articles and blog posts for corporate websites and small businesses and nonprofit organizations. I guess you could stretch it to call it storytelling, in a cumulative sense. Fiction scares me.

But listening to all of these short stories has caused me to narrate every thought in my head like I have some omnipotent, no omniscient, no omnipresent a microphone and I’m looking back at the experience and somehow it changed my life.

That’s a cool perspective because it means that no matter what I do the following day it’s going to be important.

So here I am today, avoiding work for a few minutes to write this, drinking my 3rd cup of coffee at 9am and about to close my laptop and make breakfast for the kids who slept through my entire adventure last night.

If you’re a storyteller at heart, or you want to see if it’s possible to alter your mind through a mental immersion in storytelling like I did, Here are a few of the awesome podcasts I have been listening to for short stories lately:

Selected Shorts
True Story
The Moth

Also, check out BuzzFeed’s article 12 Storytelling Podcasts that you need to be listening to and the UK Telegraph’s article The Best Podcasts for Stories, Fiction & Poetry.