Is Lawrence Ferlinghetti's newest collection ( published byNew Directions ) which arrived from City Lights Bookstore last week. The title is an aeronautical term denoting the time after one loses oxygen and before one passes out. Ferlinghetti uses it as a metaphor for American History
It is also a great metaphor for life itself, Instead of drifting and dreaming of all the great things God will give us in the next world should we not be making the most of our conscious lives here and now?
I experienced a moment of useful consciousness last Thursday when I looked but did not register what I saw and drove on to the railway line. The blast of the train horn when I was half way across alerted me, I used my 'Time of Useful Consciousness' to tramp on my accelerator and move the car forward a yard or two, so the train hit the boot of my car and not me. When I stepped out of my car unscathed, but facing the way I had come, one of the good samaritans people who helped me said, "You should go and buy a Lotto ticket."
If the train driver had not used his moment when he saw me on the line and realised a crash was inevitable, to blast his horn very loud, I would not be here.
So that moment of useful consciousness is really important.
And after the crash I was surrounded by angels, one in a blue lace dress, several in holiday wear, two in police uniform, all very human, who helped me shift the car, make a statement to the police and drove me home.
Angels aren't those silly creatures with wings. They are very human beings who just happen to be passing. I find that comforting.