You may have heard about Dead Man’s Curve. For some of you of my generation, it’s the title of the 1964 hit pop song by Jan and Dean. The song is about a car race that ends at that infamous location, where you “won’t come back from Dead Man’s Curve.”
Growing up, for me, Dead Man’s Curve was more than just a song. I knew where Dead Man’s Curve was, and it wasn’t in California, like in the song. It was on Maxwell Road, across the county line, on the way from our home in Clement to Fayetteville. It was one of those sharp bends in the road where the curve sign says thirty miles an hour, and they’re not joking.
But there were people, especially young teenage drivers, who didn’t heed the signs. Every now and then, we would hear of someone going too fast for the curve, not making it, and wrecking. There would be totaled cars, serious injuries, and sometimes worse. That’s what would happen when you didn’t make it around Dead Man’s Curve.
Yes, it’s tough when you miss the curve. And there are curves out there we face that are not on the highway. You’re going in a certain direction in your life and then comes a curve that you weren’t expecting. Sometimes it’s a really sharp curve, almost a Dead Man’s Curve. I was reminded of that recently, with friends, relatives, and acquaintances dealing with curves like sickness, job loss, and loss of loved ones.
But we need to realize that “the bend in the road is not the end of the road, unless you miss the curve.”
No, I didn’t come up with that quote. I’m “borrowing” it from my friend, Rev. Louie Boykin. Now, whether he “borrowed” the line from someone else, I don’t know. But, it’s a great statement about life and it’s an important point we all need to realize.
Ten years ago, I attended a revival Louie was preaching at Union Star Original FWB Church. I was in the middle of a sharp curve in my personal life. Before, I had felt like I had been cruising along in my life. Now I was in the middle of my own “Dead Man’s Curve,” and I was going seventy miles an hour. His statement about the “bend in the road” spoke to me as I was in one of those “bends” in my personal life, and was in real danger of missing the curve.
There will always be bends in our road of life. So, how do we navigate them? First, don’t miss the curve and wreck. How can we miss the curve? One way is by ignoring the curve, or realizing you’re in a curve too late. How many accidents could be avoided by paying attention to the road ahead and reacting properly? That 35 mile per hour curve sign is there for a reason. In our lives there are always going to be curves. You have a nagging cough. You might need to go to the doctor and check it out. You hear about a slowdown in sales and other signs of problems in the company you work for. It might be time to update that resume. Looks like there’s a curve coming and you need to get ready.
Another way to miss the curve is to overreact. This is especially true if you don’t see the curve coming. One of the first lessons drivers should learn is, if you run off the road, don’t overcorrect and jerk the car back on the highway. This will cause you to lose control of the vehicle. I learned that lesson after flipping my parent’s car three times when I was sixteen years old. (No, it wasn’t on Dead Man’s Curve.) In other words, when you are facing a bend in the road, don’t panic, or give up, and end up doing something stupid that you will later regret.
Second, to navigate those curves we face is to realize, like Louie said that night, “the bend in the road is not the end of the road.” That may be difficult to believe, especially if you are in the middle of your own personal Dead Man’s Curve. But that bend can change your direction toward a new plan and purpose that God has for you. And God will be with you as you head toward that destination. Just stay out of the ditch, and keep heading down the road forward to your new destination. Then, unlike in that old Jan and Dean song, you’ll come back from Dead Man’s Curve.
Mac McPhail, raised in Sampson County, lives in Clinton and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org