By Gerald Hausman
Bokeelia, FL, USA
I got hit by lightning yesterday.
I was walking barefoot up my driveway to meet a friend who was in a black truck. There was something ominous about that. But more so the sudden downpour of rain and then, when I got to the truck and my friend rolled his window down there was a clap of thunder and a blinding white flash. The truck was hit. Our farm gate too. I felt a surge of voltage run through my left hand, up my arm, across my chest, and then down my other arm and out my right hand.
The next few seconds are lost to me.
I saw my friend, and also his friend, talking to me, but it was dreamlike. They spoke and no sound came from their lips. It was as if I were in a soundless void. The world of surround sound was suddenly stopped.
Then it came back on, full volume, and I heard the roll of thunder. The rain came down like iron nails.
I found myself – seconds later – sloshing through a river of grass that had once been my yard. On the porch I heard my wife talking to me and my dog barking and my parrot screeching. I was back in the world of the senses, but I felt unsheathed from it all. I was in it but not of it. I was not myself any longer.
Inside the house I sat down in my favorite chair. How did I feel?
I felt as if someone had told a really funny joke and I had suddenly gotten to the punch line, and the joke was on me. The funniest jokes, I've come to believe, are always on us.
The feeling I had was one of elation. I could barely contain it. So I didn't. I just sat in my chair and laughed while my wife Lorry looked on. She wasn't smiling.
After a few more moments, things began to come back to me. I could recall the moment of the strike and I could see myself walking off in the rain towards the house. I could remember that, while walking, I didn't have any idea who I was.
Was I OK?
Well, to answer that question, I should explain that with a direct strike, you're usually dead. I had been struck by a secondary strike, or what they call a flash strike. The electricity, in my case, must have hit the truck, bounced to the fence, then me. The sensation was like putting your finger in a light socket – intense vibration, moderate pain. Then the flow of current out of the body, the release. The prisoner walks away, dazed, but unharmed.
I am still finding out what happened during and after the strike.
Shortly after my laughing fit, my back muscles seized up very painfully. That lasted for a half hour. Then my muscles twitched for a couple more hours. Then I lay down and felt the ghost of electricity tingling in my bones. That went on for quite some time.
While experiencing this inner tremor, I remembered my Navajo buddy Jooghi, who once told me that someone struck by lightning was blessed. He said, "If a man dies of a lightning strike, he goes into the earth with the blessing of the Earth Mother. The ground around that place is sacred. If a tree was struck at the same time, no one ever cuts it down. It is sacred."
"What if a man lives?"
"Then he carries the universe inside him. We call lightning, zigzag, and when it strikes it is like a rattlesnake from the sky."
I believe in blessings and I have always believed in angels, guardians, protectors, ancestors who look out for us. But this, truly, was one lucky strike, and I am grateful that I am not sacred ground.
I am alive, the greatest blessing there is.