Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Here Today, Struck by Lightning Tomorrow
Today was a rare day in Los Angeles, I mean rare, rare, RARE. It rained. In June.
It rained in Los Angeles in JUNE.
I had an audition in Santa Monica, and I was nervous because, well, it was RAINING. In Los Angeles. In June. And well, the people here don't know how do drive in the rain, especially when it hasn't rained for a few months. To put it bluntly, the folks here can't drive for shit in the rain.
I live in Hollywood, which is pretty far from Santa Monica. Yet today, I did not take the freeway. I went the long way: Sunset to Santa Monica to Wilshire until I got to Santa Monica. I was not gonna get on the freeway in the rain, 'cuz folks here can't drive for shit in the rain.
Even as I drove along the 40 m.p.h. speed-limited, two-lane Santa Monica Boulevard, I kept hearing cars skidding and slamming on the brakes, and I kept thinking, Please let me get to this audition alive, 'cuz folks here can't drive for shit in the rain.
My fear though, should not have been a car crash, due to the rain. My fear should rather have been of electrocution due to the lightning.
Two women were struck by lightning today.
STRUCK BY LIGHTNING. In southern California. In JUNE.
One woman survived, the other died.
I learned about the lightning-struck women on the radio as I was driving home after my audition. I couldn't stop thinking about the woman who had died.
All I heard on the radio was that she lived in Fontana, she was 35-years-old, and she was standing next to a tree when it happened, at 4:30 in the afternoon.
4:30 in the afternoon. The time that I was in the waiting room of the casting office, waiting to audition. My audition was for 4:10, but there was a delay, and I remember at one point, I glanced at the clock in the waiting room, and saw that it was 4:30.
I couldn't help but think this as I drove home, how much life is the accident of where fate puts us. Why was I indoors, in a studio in Santa Monica where no lightning struck, while she was outdoors, standing next to a tree, in Fontana, where lightning DID strike?
Life leads you in different directions, that's why. Somehow, the path of her life led her to Fontana CA, and today, for some reason, she was outdoors beside a tree, which is a prime conductant for lightning during a storm. The path of my life has led me to Hollywood CA, and for some reason (my agent having called me and told me where to go, to be precise), I was inside a waiting room, and waiting rooms, as a rule, are not a lightning conductors.
The drive home from Santa Monica was eternal. As I kept inching along in rush hour traffic, I began to criticize myself for thinking about the matter in such a trite, cliche' way.
"Paths leading us in different directions: one to an audition, and one to lightning." How trite. How cliche'.
There has to be a deeper meaning, and as I sat, stuck in traffic, it came to me: the most bizarre thing about that woman's death...
Just yesterday, she obviously couldn't have dreamed in a million years that tomorrow she would be dead, and of A LIGHTNING STRIKE. I mean, I remember yesterday. It was sunny. It was another typical day in southern California: yet another sunny day in a chain of sunny days that would continue uninterrupted until November.
To think you're going to die of a lightning strike in southern California in June is tantamount to thinking you're going to die of drowning in the Sahara desert in June. It just doesn't happen.
But it can.
Life can be taken from you any time, any place, for any reason, no matter how fantastic and unexpected.
Yesterday I was taking photos of the royal palm trees on my block. They are like 60-feet-tall. As I craned my neck up to take pictures of the tops of the trees, the sun blinded me. I had to photograph in the other direction, so that the backdrop of the trees would simply be the light blue sky. If somebody had told me yesterday, as I looked at that relentlessly blue sky, "Be careful tomorrow, Larry. You could get stuck by lightning and die."
I would have thought they were on crack.
I'm sure that the woman who died today would have had a similar reaction. "You think I'm gonna die tomorrow due to a LIGHTNING strike? Are you on crack?"
Of COURSE her reaction would have been something like that. After all, she was living her life. Perhaps she had plans for tonight. Maybe she was going to do something special over the weekend. Maybe this summer she had a vacation to Europe planned. Maybe in the fall she was going to start taking a class, or maybe she had a wedding to go to-- a friend's or her own. Whatever her plans may have been, they have been cancelled now, because
TODAY SHE WAS STRUCK BY LIGHTNING.
In southern California. In JUNE.
At this point, I am tempted to say that this is an example of how Life should never be taken for granted, that we should live our lives day by day, that we should live each day as if it were our last. Carpe diem! Here today, gone tomorrow!
Hmm. I'll resist the temptation to say those things (even though I totally feel that way) because they are so trite, so cliche'.