Yesterday was an eventful day…
While driving my daughter to a relative’s house, we had an interesting event happen. As we made a right turn, about 3 miles from our destination, I saw something in the road at the top of the hill. I immediately stopped when we saw it was a gopher tortoise. We stopped and made sure he made it across.
As I started to drive off, I noticed that the front driver side had the unmistakable sound and feel of a flat. I turned around and went to a gas station. It was VERY flat. It turns out that a plug I had in the tire long ago failed in the heat. I had her text that we may be a bit late and changed to my little spare. (Under 5 minutes, for the record. Not that it matters…just sayin’…)
We got her to her destination and I began looking for a tire shop. I ended up locating one not much out of the way and swung by. The tire was not fixable, they were closing in 2 hours, needed to buy a new one. $137. I asked if they offered a veteran’s discount, which I do not do often. He said, “You’re lucky I am even putting it on.”
The Scream by Edvard Munch
There are lots of moving parts here, but here is some background on me. Spending unexpected money is always a source of anxiety. Huge, unbearable, gut-destroying anxiety. Almost unbearable. Growing up without much of it, it is the one thing that will immediately make me a mess. I react horribly. Stressed, I let it take my happy and turn it into a state of worry that controls everything for days. Even in this case, I felt the knots in my stomach that are a tell-tale sign that cortisol is being pumped for the stress reaction. But this time, I recognized it. I felt it and changed my course. I started examining the situation…
We drove for 2 hours on the interstate. This made me realize how lucky we were that it did not blow out doing 75 on a crowded interstate.
That tortoise…he had to have started his journey at such a specific time to put him in the road ahead of us. To give us the chance to help. My daughter, totally convinced we were heroes, was pretty happy to see him. She also mentioned that she was happy I didn’t yell about the tire or get stressed out. And I was glad as well. AND she was very impressed with my speed at changing it.
So I get to the tire shop and, as I said, he tells me, “You’re lucky I am even putting it on.”
In another life, I’d have gone to the mats with him and then drove home on the spare. The MArine would have come loose and we would have had quite the discussion. Yesterday, after having thought how lucky we were and refusing to let the one instant control my day, I answered simply, “You’re right. I really appreciate it. Very thankful you are open.” Don’t get me wrong…my immediate thought was to leave or have at it. But I chewed on that. Why? What good will come of it? I held it. I thought it out and changed MY reaction.
That’s the secret here. We can’t change the information. We can only change the way we react to the information. WE control that. And that is the only thing we control.
As we were talking, he mentions, “Yeah, we have so much work. I am 5 guys short. 1 fired ,3 emergencies, that made guys leave, and my son. He just had surgery on his collarbone after an awful wreck on a 4-wheeler. He buys and flips 4-wheelers for a living, just doesn’t normally FLIP 4-wheelers.”
We chatted about that a bit and he was more at ease. His son happened to have worn his gear to test ride the repairs that day. He got lucky, even if a 30-minute surgery turned into a 3-hour surgery that made him go looking for a doctor to find out if his son was ok. He obviously was glad to get it off his chest. All of it. But that’s just it.
We ALL carry demons. We all wrestle our own and are just trying to hang on to this blue marble many days. Him as well. On my way home, I began thinking about how lucky I was. How, long ago, he decided this was what he would do for a living. And during that decision, decided to be open later than most shops on Saturdays. Most shops would have been closed. All the rest, including the one I had the flat at, were closed.
All the way home I considered that. How lucky I am. How fortunate that flat tire was. How it gave us a chance to see the tortoise. How it gave me 5 extra minutes with my daughter. How it could have been catastrophic.
For the first time in my life, I didn’t let the stress win the day or dwell on it. For the first time, it was taken in stride and moved forward. I came home, ate a healthful meal instead of comfort food, and slept well.
I can honestly say, without even the slightest hint of dishonesty, that I was thankful for that flat tire. Not only for the time and the tortoise…but also because that tire is another step in helping me become the best version of myself. It helped me make it through a wrestling match where I’d have come out the other side much worse for the wear.
What I saw is the one thing that is the most important thing we can all look for.
Yesterday, through a tortoise, an unexpected bill, a guy wrestling his own demons, and a flat, I got the gift of progress. I got to win a round.
We cannot control the information. We cannot control the reaction from others. We can only control our own reaction.
We all wrestle our demons. Yesterday, I won.