ca. 1976-1977, Carolina Beach State Park, North Carolina, USA — Grove of Long Needle Pine Trees — Image by © David Muench/CORBIS

On Earth Day during my Senior year of High School, I was in a car accident and almost died. It was one of the scariest things I’ve ever experienced. I was one of three guys in the car and we’d had a tangle with a drunk stranger in a parking lot where we’d been driving in circles and knocking over stray shopping carts. We drove away, but the man followed us, revved up to our bumper, threatening to hit us. I was in the back seat and remember his face, red and livid. I’m ashamed to say that I further antagonized the guy by flipping him off. My friend who was driving tried to ditch him, but the guy matched our acceleration every time. We were way above and beyond the speed limit.

We turned a corner on a sharp mountain curve and flew off the road. The car sailed through the air, clipped some pine trees, flipped over and landed on the rear window. I wasn’t wearing my seatbelt and I kept somersaulting in the back, my long necklace wrapped around my neck, cutting into my skin and choking me. My life played out in a series of vignettes from birth to the present. I could see everything I had ever done from a higher perspective. Sadness and regret welled up inside me as I realized that this could be the end.

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