Two nights ago, I spent about four hours at a self-storage place on an errand that I imagined would take, oh, I don’t know, maybe fifteen, twenty minutes.
I’d gone to pick up my Mac and speakers that I had packed away. I was on my way out of the facility when I hit something while trying to maneuver my way around a row of parked U-Haul trucks in the aisle. I don’t know if I just didn’t allow enough distance or if the slope of the driveway threw me off or what, but I hit (I assume, but I’m not really sure) the nearest truck and somehow (of which I have no idea), ended up with a flat tire. I pulled the car off to the side and then got out to see what the dragging sensation was, and yup, that’s what it was: my very first flat tire. I wound up calling my uncle to see if he could come help me out - something I hesitated to do, because the very night before, he had been over to replace the passenger side mirror that I had broken off just a couple of weeks before in a backing-out faux pas at Sonic.
Immediately, the internal storm began to brew. My chest tightened with frustration and embarrassment. Images popped in to my mind of how uncomfortable it would be while my uncle changed the tire, and of how he and the rest of my family would all gather around and talk about the incapable fool I am. I watched as these images played in my mind. I watched as I tore in to myself for making such a mistake and for not even being able to fix it on my own. I watched as my stomach filled with that feeling of dread, imagining how the situation at hand would be unpleasant.
The thing about the present moment (including your thoughts about it – if you believe them) is that it seems so big. It seems like what you believe to be so right now is the literal truth, an unwieldy predicament, and that every moment to follow from this moment onward is likely going to be more of the same, tinted by what you imagine to be happening right now. And I dare say that most often – a great majority of the time – it just isn’t so.
I’ve made it my sadhana, my spiritual practice, to observe. I observe the mind so as not to get lost in it. Emotions happen but if you just stay present for them without judgment, you keep from identifying with your story, which allows you awareness of your true nature.
Sometimes staying rooted in that is easier than others. In this instance, though, it was seamless. As I got off the phone with my uncle and began to wait, I was really able to see that I didn’t like the road I was headed down. I was really starting to have a tantrum with this inconvenient circumstance and it didn’t feel good. And so, by the grace of God, I simply turned around. I stopped. I was granted the presence of mind to see what I was doing and to choose again. I was able to remind myself that like it or not, I had gotten a flat tire. Like it or not, I needed help; that was the way of it. I was able to remind myself that I didn’t need to fix or change anything in the outside world to become at ease again. My only goal EVER is to recognize the Divine in every single moment; it really is that simple – so I breathed that knowing in.
One of my favorite Byron Katie quotes is: “Reality is God because it rules.” And I agree with her when she says that God/Reality is kind and good – and that we can know this is true, because when we argue with it (reality), we suffer. I believe that God is kind and that I am given exactly what I need in any given moment. Whatever it is that shows up, whether I like it or not, I always trust that Source has offered it to me with my best interest at heart. And so, I looked at the gaping hole in the tire and the empty storage facility and wondered what gift I was being given.
I walked out the front gate and found a concrete ledge to sit on while I waited for my uncle. It wasn’t a minute that I sat there before I had my answer.
For an August evening, it was surprisingly mild, comfortable even. A beautiful, steady breeze blew. I took deep breaths and noticed the capable, healthy lungs I have. I had a comfortable place to sit right underneath a giant billboard. Situated right on the service road, the constant music of the speeding cars on the highway passing by brought me comfort. I had no thirst or need to go the restroom, a good thing being stuck outdoors. I had a great uncle whom I could call and who would take the time and come to help me. I had been given a reason to simply be outside, something that I probably wouldn’t have done otherwise.
Gratitude washed over me.
My uncle and aunt showed up together and we went to the car so they could see what was what. Trying to remove the tire, trouble getting the last lug nut off is what we found, and it took a lot of time and a few different strategies to make it happen. At one point, they needed to go back home to get some tool that was needed. I stayed behind because the gate was locked from the outside and I don’t have 24-hour access to my unit.
As they left, I sat and felt a bit guilty that I had brought them in to this and that it was taking so long. I noticed I was feeling guilty, but neither my aunt nor uncle had said anything to make me feel that way. In fact, if they were pissed off or felt inconvenienced, they didn’t show it. Even with all the time and effort it was taking and things going wrong, my uncle handled things real smooth. I admire him for that. And he seemed genuinely happy to help me, despite everything.
While they left for the tool, I sat under the night sky and looked for more to be washed with.
My aunt and uncle’s kindness. The fact I was able to spend time with them in a way I wouldn’t have otherwise. The bottle of water they brought me back, the chewing gum given. The reassuring breeze and traffic sounds as I sat within the summer night. All the city lights around. The blinking lights of the passing planes I tend to like to follow. And eventually, four hours after I first screwed up the tire to begin with, the fact that I was able to drive home safely, new tires to be acquired soon.
I had five to ten minutes of frustration on a self-pity trip that could have gone on so much longer. All those blessings I was given and I might not have received them if I hadn’t had the presence of mind to ask or look for them.
I thank you, God, for that clarity!
It made all the difference in the world.
Four hours worth of joy!