While riding my motorcycle back to Austin from Dallas, I had a near-life experience. I was about 50 miles outside of Dallas on the 200 mile journey when the clouds turned from hazy gray into ominous black. It had been threatening to rain for a few days, but no major downpours had actually occurred. My family tends to worry about me when I ride, so out of respect for them and my own safety, I prefer to ride in safe weather conditions. While I have experienced riding in the rain before (rain drops feel like needles through your clothes) it increases risk quite a bit. The road is the most slick during the first 15 minutes of rain due to the water mixing with the road to form a greasy surface from the oil build-up left by the constant highway traffic.
The first few drops seemed to evaporate as quickly as they materialized, but soon turned into a heavy cloud burst with limited visibility. Traffic slowed down a bit, but freight-trucks and speeding vehicles still cast dirty mists of road precipitation and wind turbulence.
It was thrilling and terrifying at the same time. My mind required heightened focus, my heart raced to compensate for the much needed adrenaline to react to the unexpected, and my spirit felt grateful to be "Alive". After a few minutes of this feeling, i decided that the risk was not worth the reward and exited the highway. I ended up avoiding the heaviest of the rain while sipping a hot coffee inside a McDonald's restaurant. After about 30 minutes, the storm had passed and I got to dry my dampened clothes on a freshly cleaned, sunny highway.
The movie 'Fight Club' has a scene where the 'near-life experience' is discussed. The narrator is contemplating (with himself) the difference between 'thinking' and 'knowing' that he is going to die. The narrator's split personality, Tyler, illustrates his point by releasing control of the steering wheel in a speeding car while driving down the highway in a torrential downpour. He asks his passengers what they wished to accomplish before dying. Each rider quickly responds with a personal goal, except for the narrator who can't process the alarming situation and the impending reality of death. The vehicle eventually crashes and everyone is able to walk away relatively unscathed. The point of the exercise was to illustrate the importance of having purpose, and its priority in one's life.
"What will you wish you'd done before you died?"