She sat back, relaxed and enjoyed the scenery. It almost felt as if the car she drove was driving itself. She felt her mind melt into the sight of the beautiful fields that all lay so lush and flat beyond the roadway, and a sky that was so blue that she could almost believe she was part of a picture post card. She could see for miles in every direction. She had turned off the radio because she didn’t like the music they were playing. She’d already heard the news several times that day on her long, long ride back home.
She noticed the landscape turning to rolling hills. She was speeding at a little over the limit along the smooth, straight-as-an-arrow highway. Speeding was something she had difficulty curbing in herself. She liked the feel of speeding along in a fast, beautiful, luxury car. She hummed a little tune to herself. She thought about the kids in Los Angeles . She knew they would be just fine with the nanny that, fortunately, they all liked. She was free to enjoy herself and to really let herself relax completely on her mother and father’s farm for a few days, without a care in the world.
Suddenly she was aware of music. She looked down at the radio but saw that it was dark, still switched off, as she had left it half an hour or so before. The music receded and seemed almost tovanish. Then suddenly, the sound was inside the car, or so it seemed. It was insistently loud. And most surprisingly, it was, of all things, bagpipes!
Bagpipes, in the middle of what seemed an almost uninhabited landscape. Bagpipes now were inside the car—the radio still was switched off. The sound became almost strident. She began to feel fear. She couldn’t think of any logical explanation.
She pulled over to the side of the road, got out of the car, went around to the passenger side, and stood on the berm between the car and the field, and now the music was outside the car and it seemed to be focused in the field just beyond her, if it was focused any one place. She put her hand over her eyes and tried to see into the middle of the huge, empty, neatly plowed field. Her eyes swept the curve of the plow’s path around the edge of the field and back as the horses must have doubled the path of the plow back on itself.
Still the music, seemingly played by some wild, unseen bagpiper, played on, and on, until her ears caught a new sound that overlaid their piping—what was that? It was like an engine sound, maybe the plough had been drawn by a tractor and it was returning, but no, this new sound was behind her—she turned to see what was there—just in time to stare horrified as a huge semi-trailer, seemingly twice the size of a normal one, zoomed down the hill straight toward her car as it sat parked on the berm, and the driver, apparently having lost control at the top of the hill fought the wheel and managed to swerve back into his own lane, zipping past her car a matter of only a foot or two from it.
The truck teetered dangerously as all this went on. She fell back several steps in fear. The hot wake of the passing trailer’s exhaust blew back at her fiercely. Then she was turning, tracing the trail of the taillights of the huge rig as it sped off down the road in the direction from which she had just come.
The silence as the truck disappeared from sight and the lack of danger in its wake totally filled the stillness of her attention. My God, the bagpipes had stopped and all was now silent; and she hadn’t even been aware of when they had been silenced.
She was weak with fear, suddenly. She had never heard of such a thing. She had certainly never had such an experience before. The terrifying realization appeared on the horizon of mind that without the bagpipes, she would have been in the car on the road when that trailer appeared at the top of the hill and it would have swept over her car and crushed it.
She nearly fell into the driver’s seat and sat for a long while thanking the universe for saving her life. The fear finally ebbed away and her strength came back. She started the engine and listened gratefully to it purring peacefully, reassuringly, underneath her. She needed to reach home before it got dark. She needed to tell someone about her escape.
What were the odds that she, a Zen Buddhist, would be saved from death by bagpipe music in the middle of nowhere with no one to see any of it happen except the driver of the big rig who was probably too busy fighting for control of his vehicle to even be aware of her escape?! There was no question that bagpipe music was, for the time being at least, her favorite music, and she knew she would never hear it again without thanking the universe for life itself.