(Picture from livefromlockdown.com)
This weekend I was planning to take my nephews hiking. I was particularly excited to get one of them on the trail because he normally doesn’t care much for outdoor exertion, or being someplace where his phone won’t work, but he was the first to ask me to do the hike. So I made the plans, checked the weather – warm and sunny! – bought the water and food to take, along with the normal treats I take to my sister’s house when I stay the night, as I was also planning to do this time. Then as I went to start my car after finishing my last stop before my sister’s house, the car made a loud click as I turned the key, and died.
And so there I was in a parking lot with a dead car as night was falling. I was only about a five-minute drive from my sister’s house, though, so we got the car running with a jump, I limped it to her driveway, and there it died again after about five minutes of idling. The next day – with no hike happening – I charged the battery for a half-hour thinking to drive it to a nearby mechanic, only to have it die on me again right out of the driveway and stay dead. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I ended up waiting 3 1/2 hours for a tow truck that never came. My car should be at a garage by now thanks to alternate towing arrangements, but since I live 50 miles from my sister, even if the car is fixed tomorrow I probably won’t be able to pick it up till at least Friday.
That first night my fretting over my car kept me awake for a long while, and then kept waking me up. But by yesterday I was feeling more sanguine about the whole business. Well, aside from frustration at my nephews having to miss their hike as the last colored leaves are about to fall from the trees, and anger at the absentee tow truck driver. What I mean is that I was feeling more peaceful about the problem with my car.
Now don’t imagine that I didn’t fret about it. There is a possibility, albeit small I hope, that I won’t be able to pay to have it repaired. And I’m not happy about the idea of being vehicle-less for a week. But I’ve also gotten slightly better about being an observer to my emotions rather than being trapped and buried in them, and yesterday brought me a little bit of detachment.
This is a big deal for me.
A lot of my life, especially decisions, tends to be intellectually based with things weighed over and over again, but a lot also tends to be driven by emotions. And when those emotions get high, especially anger or frustration, a big chunk of that intellect and reasoning goes out the window. Not surprisingly, my emotional waves were swelling yesterday to the point where they might be comparable to a rogue ocean wave toppling the Poseidon. But they didn’t overwhelm, blind, or choke me as they might have not so long ago.
I credit a few things for this:
First, the whole renewed spiritual explorations in general. When you can’t see anything past the immediate present, especially with the added blinder of depression, it’s much harder to get a broader view on things. So far my own rekindled spirituality has helped with this immensely.
And second, bringing me to the title of this entry, I do believe that there are times when things work out they way they’re supposed to, whether you want them to or not. And there have been plenty of times where things didn’t work out how I wanted them to at the time but I’m glad in retrospect that they didn’t. Sometimes these are relationships, especially of the non-Platonic variety; other times they are happenings, where I wasn’t able to do something I wanted to but then some external circumstance made me glad I didn’t – or something even better happened that wouldn’t have if I’d gotten what I originally wanted. I’m sure there are many more instances that I’m not aware of, too.
That’s the feeling I’m definitely having about this now. That the car dying on me might be bad…but what if it had died on me when I was dozens of miles away with my nephews, instead of two miles from my sister’s house? Or if it had died on me on some back country road (which I drive often, living in the back country as I do) in the middle of a snowstorm on some wickedly cold February night? (The car’s shutting down also meant no heater.) I can easily think of a dozen other realistic scenarios when it dying on me some other time could have been vastly worse.
Or for that matter, heck, maybe the tow truck driver never showed because he’d been drinking, and he might have wrecked my car entirely. When I finally left my sister’s house I saw that traffic on the highway was backed up for miles – leaving earlier could’ve had a much worse ending than just losing my car battery or alternator. Or it could be that the mechanic will catch something else wrong that might have been disastrous. Again, it’s easy to think how this relatively small inconvenience could have spared me from something horrible.
Oodles and oodles of possibilities. Likely I’ll never know if one of them meant my trouble amounted to little more than an easily cured headache. But the feeling that This is the way it was supposed to work out is still pulsing in my intuition’s chest like a heartbeat.
There was one more unexpected thing when I got home that night, too. I’ve been wondering two things a lot lately: What am I supposed to be doing with my life? and Am I where I’m supposed to be? The first one remains tough to answer and is a central thrust of my spiritual explorations. But for the second, especially now when I’ve resumed my spiritual explorations, has been increasingly feeling like I am. And when I pulled into my driveway last night, I was hit with the thought and feeling, You may not have your car, but this is right where you’re supposed to be.
There’s another reason this is a big deal to me. When I was adrift, mired in depression most of the time, and not pursuing my spiritual beliefs, my faith – such as it was – could lacerate with the smallest crisis, crack open with moderate ones, and crumble entirely under the weight of big ones. Certainly the car issue would have been more than enough to shove me down into a black pit, the worst of my depressive moods, for however long it took to get my car back and possible for awhile after its return. But that’s not the case today.
I understand that, really, this is a small crisis. Moderate at worst. It’s not a heavy faith-kicker. And I am a little anxious and fretful over the potential cost of the repair(s). My anxieties are screaming at me What’s wrong with you? This is something to be horribly worried about! But unlike the bulk of recent years, my beliefs aren’t lacerated, I’m not overly depressed, and now and again I can manage to take one step away from the emotions and observe them more impartially.
That’s better than I’ve been able to manage for years. In some ways it’s better than I’ve been able to manage in ever. Admittedly I’m still concerned it won’t last and that eventually I’ll slip back into the old habits of anxiety and depression. But even if that does prove to be the case, I’ll enjoy this while it lasts.