On terrifying close calls and gratitude

I’ve always thought gratitude was a hokey word and I don’t use it much. But I get it now. At every show I have played on this tour, I have encountered incredible kindnesses and generosity in ways I didn’t even know were possible. The fact that anyone is willing to open up their home to me so I can play some songs in it is surreal. And don’t even get me started on the fact that there are people there to listen - I can’t even. So, gratitude.

I was literally thinking these very thoughts just before I lost control of my car last night on Highway 101.

I was following my dear friend, Kate Graves, back to her house after our show at the Santa Barbara Guitar Bar. It was extremely windy, and it had rained earlier on for the first time in months. Out of nowhere, Kate swerved suddenly to the left, revealing a massive tree in the middle of the freeway. Which I was now barreling towards at 60 mph.

I slammed on my brakes and swerved left too, only my car stopped obeying my steering wheel. I skidded back and forth over 3 lanes of traffic for what seemed like forever, and then careened to the right shoulder while my car rotated 180 degrees. I braced myself for an impact.

And then - nothing. My car screeched to a stop about a foot from the freeway barrier and shrubs, completely within the shoulder. Mind you, I was now facing the wrong way - but I (and my car, Badonkadonk) was unscathed. Thank G-d that Kate was also unharmed. I could smell the burnt rubber from my tires.

Two other cars were pulled over due to an accident caused by the same fallen tree, and the cops were already on the way. So I was eventually able to get safely turned around (I might one day write an ode to flares) and go on my way. I 100% ugly-cried to the police officer who helped me in a moment of shock and catharsis. Poor guy.

I’m not telling this story to sound dramatic or get pity. I am sharing it because it was miraculous, and I’m emotional about it. It was a miracle that when my car was skating all over 101, no one hit me. It was a miracle that when my car was doing a 180, no one hit me. It was a miracle that when I was headed straight for the barrier, I didn’t hit IT. It felt like falling off a building, but never hitting the ground.

Maybe it was just luck and chance that saved me, but it felt more divine than that. I had the sensation that something or some force protected me in those moments. Then again, maybe thats how everyone feels after a near-death experience, so what do I know. 

And so, gratitude. Gratitude for being alive. Gratitude for miracles, friends to cry to, places to sleep, meals offered, and connectedness. Gratitude for the reminder that life is porcelain, and how anything is subject to change within the blink of an eye.