Matt Heath: An open letter to the man who ran me over

Publish Date
Monday, 4 June 2018, 5:15PM
NZ Herald

NZ Herald

By: Matt Heath

It was great to meet you last Thursday morning. Hope your car is ok after I smashed into it with my body. I just wanted to say sorry. It was completely my fault.

5:50 am there you were minding your own business. Then out of nowhere an idiot crosses your path on his stupid green bicycle. BANG!.

No one needs that so early. You would've been well within your rights to put the boot in. Instead you jumped out and asked if I was ok. Helped me up. Concerned about a stranger's well being over everything else. What a good man.

There is no excuse for what happened. But I'll try and explain it anyway. I'd been reading a great book till late. 'Waking Up' by Californian neuroscientist and superstar podcaster Sam Harris. In chapter 2 'The Mystery of Consciousness' he writes about patients who've had the left and right hemispheres of their brains surgically split.

'When the forbrain commissures are cut, the hemispheres display an altogether astonishing functional independence, including separate memories learning processes, behavioural intentions and - it seems all but certain - centers of conscious experience'.

So Dude Who Ran Me Over, I was riding at high speed thinking about the possibility of two separate consciousnesses within my own head. My Corpus Callasum hasn't been severed. But Sam Harris had me contemplating a silent separate intelligence within my own brain. Speech is usually controlled by the left hemisphere so I imagined a right side not being able to articulate itself. An imprisoned bodiless Helen Keller type consciousness.

So concentrating really hard on the right side of my brain I sped out of the cycle-way and across the intersection. Bang!. I smashed into the front of your car and went flying. Splattered across the road. Absolute humiliator.

Obviously riding down a road at pace trying to use only the right hemisphere of your brain is a stupid thing to do. But I did experience something that might be useful to neuroscience. Maybe be even to Sam Harris.

It was all in slow motion. I saw that the lights had turned to green for the cars. I saw that they were red for me. But the lights meant nothing. They didn't register at all. They were just colours.

I've been driving and riding for a long time. I know what the lights mean. My reactions to them are usually automatic. But that morning they meant nothing. Maybe the right side had taken over.

Maybe my right brain doesn't know the road rules. Maybe my right brain hates the left side and given full control decided to smash it into a car. So many questions. Did I manage to non surgically severe the links between the hemispheres of my brain or was I just a dangerously zoned out idiot on a bike? You decide.

Either way it's important for all of us to concentrate on the roads. Especially on a bike. The cyclist will always come off second best in a collision. But it's equally not cool to interrupt peoples commutes by bouncing off their bonnets. As I did to you.

For about 30 mins after the accident on Thursday I was hyper. A bit sore and bloody but fine.

Half an hour later the pain kicked in. Aching ribs and spine. Massive head ache. I started forgetting things halfway through sentences. Nausea set in. I couldn't walk straight. But I deserved it. It was my well earned punishment. (For a realtime recording of my adrenaline fuelled bravado turning into whinging pain and confusion, listen to the Matt and Jerry Breakfast Show Podcast 31 May).

Anyway, Dude Who Ran Me Over, I don't know you but I know you're a top bloke. I just want to say sorry.

You are a great New Zealander. I am a moron.

Love Matt Heath

Ps. I owe you a very expensive bottle of whatever you drink.

This article was first published on and is republished here with permission.