Getting out of a dangerous situation. Where is your guardian angel when you need him?
I rented a scooter during a three month stay in Indonesia. Driving of any sort in SE Asia is a terrifying endeavor. For western-trained motorcyclists, riding around without proper riding gear in an environment where signs and driving regulations are merely suggestions to be followed based on preference or convenience, it’s even more harrowing. Imagine if one way traffic signs were only a suggestion. Imagine scooters schooling like fish at rush hour, with large vans passing close enough to brush your arm. You have to let go of everything you have learned about safe driving and get with the flow of what’s happening in front of you. Every morning when I got on my scooter, I’d ask it to bring me home in one piece.
Still, I loved the freedom of being able to explore and go wherever I wanted. I loved the feeling of the sun on my skin and the smell of fields and earth.
Then the visions started happening. These are a specific category of visions I experience, and I recognize them because they always have the same quality, the same signature. I am shown something, usually in slow motion, repeatedly. There is a short verbal sequence, always in the form of a command. In this case, I was told, “When your bike goes down, get on the side and ride it like a surfboard.” Along with this, I experienced my bike going down and sliding at great speed while I practiced the motion of moving from sitting on the seat to a crouched stand on the side of the bike as it moved as if on a wave. It would then rewind and replay several times so I could develop a physical memory, or familiarity with the move.
This happened several times a day for around four days. Then it went away.
This side-riding of a downed motorbike is not anything I’ve heard of and certainly not what I would naturally do in a bike down situation. The whole thing seemed so strange to me, but that particular signature or channel of communication is one I never dismiss. “Got it! Bike down, switch to surfing mode.” Jesus, please don’t let my bike go down here. I’m out here in flip flops and a toy helmet. There are no real hospitals for hours.
A few days after this communication stopped, I was exploring the area to the north of my village. The maps were not accurate, so I had a compass and tried to keep a general orientation as I rode. I had planned on going much further, but a storm front suddenly appeared and was swiftly moving my way, promising a tropical downpour impossible to navigate. I had to find my way back home.
I stopped and asked people at a few cafes, and finally found one who gave me directions to the main road. The path that he had me go through was a nightmare for a motorbike. The street was an uneven decline made of loose gravel. I thought of turning back, but the storm was getting closer and I knew I barely had enough time as it was. I pressed on, though at a crawl. The sky was getting darker and the air, heavy.
The road just got worse the further I went, but now I really couldn’t turn back. I’d gone too far and needed to just get to the main road, where I could fly as fast as my bike would take me and hopefully miss the thunderstorm. I was practically walking my scooter now, the road was so dangerous and my tires were constantly losing traction on the gravel.
Then I turned the corner. About one hundred feet in front of me was the main road. And immediately in front of me was a pack of dogs. There were about ten of them, and the alpha was eyeing me, deciding whether or not to attack. If I was riding at a normal speed, he wouldn’t have even tried it. But I was practically walking my bike because the gravel had finally devolved to being impossible to ride on, and he stood to attention, which caused the pack to stir.
I had to make a split second choice between bad and worse. If I gunned it, I might go down and be mauled by a pack of dogs. But if I didn’t try, I would be mauled by a pack of dogs anyway. I guess there was not much of a choice, was there?
I gunned it, as carefully as possible to keep as much traction as I could. I projected confidence, not fear. The dogs started moving toward me, but not with great conviction. They still were weighing whether it was worth it, now that I seemed to be riding and not creeping. The pack of dogs was behind me now and the main road was right in front of me. But there was one more obstacle that came sharply into view at the last minute.
Straight down. To get to the main road I had to somehow navigate a 45 degree angle loose gravel decline. Impossible. But there was no way to hit my brakes now, in this gravel. So guess what happened next?
The bike went down. Time slowed to a crawl and I performed the maneuver I had practiced in my vision. I surfed the bike down the steep drop and managed to pull the handlebars in such a way, at the very last minute, to keep the bike (with me on it) from entering the main road, and the flying traffic going by. I would have been killed if I had not been able to do this. And if I had just jumped off the bike at the start of the slide, the bike would have gone into the road, killing others.
An ancient man, sun darkened from laboring in the rice paddies, wrinkled and wearing an old fashioned sarong, crossed the road to see if I was okay. He didn’t speak any language I knew, but he put his hands on my shoulders and looked deep into my eyes with such love and concern, as if I were the most precious person to him, his own child. Somehow, without a common tongue, he asked me if I was okay, really okay. I conveyed that I was amazed, stunned, but I was okay. I had a bruise and a scratch on my left ankle. He looked at it and nodded. He touched my heart with his fingertips and then brought down the blessing of his gods upon me.
I picked up my bike and rode home. Even with all of that, the first fat drops of rain were only just starting to fall as I pulled up to my bungalow. Even my bike came out of it with only a few scratches.
Even though these visions always feel like they are coming from somewhere outside myself, I can’t say for sure what they are. Only that they always feel the same way and that they are never wrong or fanciful. They always have a direct application in my life, even though they can seem really implausible.
It’s easy to allow oneself to get superstitious about such things. Are there beings who watch over us? Do we each have a guardian angel? If that were true, how does one explain all the times help is not given to prevent terrible things happening? Who is deciding which terrible thing should be allowed to happen and which terrible things should be prevented happening? Does your guardian angel have moods?
image: taken in Ubud, Bali.