By Gil Gonzalez
Random Writers: Write about the last time you listened to the sound of your own breathing.
The sound of my heart is deafening as I sit and wait.
My hands slapped the steering wheel out of frustration as the driver in front of me, lost in her own digital iWorld, didn’t notice the red turn arrow was now green, and we both missed our opportunity to make the turn.
Another 90 seconds I won’t get back as I have to sit here and watch car after car go by, each individual one step closer to their destination while I sit here like a prisoner in solitary confinement just itching to get out.
The anxiety weighs on me like the gravity on Jupiter. I think about the look on her face and I feel nauseas. Her words ring in my ears with that pitchy whine that discloses the depth of her disappointment.
“But I told you not to forget!” A tear escapes her eye and serves as an emphatic exclamation point to the emotion spilling out of her. An emotion for which I am the cause.
This fucking light. This fucking traffic. This fucking construction. I look for places and things towards which I can channel my blame. Targets to be the recipients of my anger. But I know the blame is all mine, and I can only be angry at myself.
Louder, harder, and faster now. I take a deep breath, exhaling in frustration with a sound that seems to roar like a 747 upon takeoff. I’m reminded how the last time I listened to my own breathing, I was meditating and reflecting, lost in my own introspection as I prepared to communicate with God. There is no reason to relax now, although I am conversing with God, and the conversation is furiously one-sided.
“Please let me get back on time. Please. PLEASE!”
I’ve prided myself on being the dad that always comes through. Always being there when my baby girl needed me. Having forethought and being proactive, so much so that I could anticipate my daughter’s needs and deliver a solution before she could even ask for one.
But that’s not the case right now. Right now, I’m just trying to dig myself out of the hole I created with my own negligence.
Lub-dub. Lub-dub. Lub-dub.
Green arrow. My foot slams on the accelerator. My inner nerd yells, “Punch it, Chewie!” I might have a chance just yet.
As I race back into my house, picking up the bag of my daughter’s soccer gear, the gear she needs to play goalie for her middle school team, the bag she told me ad nasueum NOT to forget, I glance at my watch and do some quick math.
Twenty-seven minutes. That’s plenty of time to get back to the field. Even in this traffic. Even with this construction. Even with these idiots and the precious little iWorld they inhabit.
My breaths are now short and rhythmic pants that escape my lungs with the fluidity of a Native American dancing around a camp fire. My heartbeat provides the percussion that augments her dance.
“I still have time. I can do this.”
It appears God has listened to my selfish pleas. Like the Red Sea before Moses, the traffic ahead of me seems to move out of my way. My temptation to drive faster is tempered by the fleeting moment of reason that reminds me a speeding ticket would result with 100% certainty my failing to make up for my previous error.
I pull into the parking lot and find a spot, and although I do so in a sane and normal fashion, in my head it plays out like a scene from an action movie. Tires squealing, my truck threatening to tip over from the 180 degree, stunt-driver move I just completed. Nothing to see except a dazzling cloud of white smoke, out from which I explode in brilliant Baywatch slow motion, my daughter’s soccer bag clutched firmly in my hand.
I race to the field. My daughter is standing. Waving. Waiting.
Lub-dub. Lub-dub. Lub-dub.
I extend out my arm, handing her the bag, and casting away the shackles of kryptonite that sucked away my Super Dad powers the previous hour. Triumphant once again, I await a rambunctious and enthused response from my daughter, one filled with joy and appreciation. One that would erase the disappointment I bestowed upon her, and restore me back to the pantheon of greatness in my daughter’s eyes.
With barely a glance and a shrug of the shoulders, my daughter simultaneously grabs the bag and proceeds to run in the opposite direction, much like the sprinter on a relay team would accept the baton from her teammate. I faintly make out my daughter saying, “Thanks, daddy.”
I hear the sound of my breathing once again.