looking through me

Tag: curiosity

tire trouble

Slogging through afternoon traffic, I saw a pickup truck with a shredded tire pulled over on the right shoulder. The sight brought back memories of my own tire-changing experience on the side of a freeway.

My tire wasn’t shredded. I couldn’t see a nail or screw or razor blade or any of the usual suspects I have a knack for running over, but something caused my tire to go from fine to flat in record speed. An hour later when I was buying a new one, I asked the guy what I’d picked up in the old one.

“Nothing,” he said.

He went on to explain that in the desert—where I lived at the time—tires more often failed from dry rot than from usage or punctures. He showed me the telltale tiny fissures and discoloration on the wall of the tire and mentioned how the heat and intense sunlight compromised the integrity of the tire.

I’d never paid attention to that part of my tires. I knew I was supposed to keep an eye on the tread and air pressure, but I had no idea the sides could rot. And I certainly didn’t know the place I lived could be the biggest reason for it.

But even if I had known my tires were susceptible to rot, I’m not sure I would have noticed it. I had to be up close and personal to see the signs. The tire was off my car in a well-lit mechanic’s bay with an expert pointing it out before it became obvious.

It’s been a few years—I don’t live in a desert any more—yet rot continues to threaten my well-being.

I check my emotional pressure from time to time. I rotate through a variety of spiritual disciplines to prevent uneven wear. But how aware am I of the influence of my environment? How closely am I looking for tiny cracks that can lead to catastrophic failure? Do I recognize the weaknesses stressing my integrity? Or am I at risk for a blowout as I speed through life?

Rot creeps up in those out-of-sight areas of my soul. And the master mechanic waits to guide me, if only I’m smart enough to ask Him for help.


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spring is coming

One foot out the backdoor I heard it. I squinted into the early morning sun—I couldn’t see it—but it was there. A hummingbird.

Later I left my desk for a quick walk. I’d timed it poorly, students spilled out of classes from every direction into the mid-morning sunshine. As I wove through the crowd, a monarch butterfly swooped and danced with all its gravity-defying glory before me. It fluttered across my path a few more times over the next hundred yards oblivious to the human hurry.

I veered onto a less populated path energized by spring’s tantalizing nearness. Even so, I increased my earphones’ volume to drown out the cars pulling into the parking structure I was skirting, but a sound cut through podcast and echoing engines alike. My feet stopped and my head swung to the left: a belted kingfisher perched on a bare tree branch on the far side of the creek.

I reached for my phone to take a picture—I only took my eyes off the bird for a second—and when I looked back the branch was empty.

But before I could search further, my phone rang. I resumed walking as I finalized a change to my car insurance with an agent a time zone away.

It’s how it happens, isn’t it? Glimpses of beauty flash before us, teasing our senses, interrupting the noise of the everyday. I caught three, but how many did I miss? What tree was bursting into bud and I walked right by? What color was the sunrise I slept through? Were there shapes in the clouds I never looked up to see? What scents were on the breeze I turned my back to?

Spring is coming—beauty is here—ready or not.


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