As I was driving home, the other day, I stopped at a cross walk and ended up stalling the car. That wasn’t so bad, but then I couldn’t restart it! My heart rate quickly increased as I started to freak out. I called my husband on the phone, blurting out my situation in a high-pitched voice on the verge of tears. I managed to coast backward a little ways to get myself out of the way of traffic, then – with the help of the first of a few kind Samaritans – parked in the driveway of a little parking lot, where I could ponder my situation and, deciding that it was probably a dead battery, ended up calling my neighbours for a jump-start. It turned out that they didn’t know much (if any!) more about cars than I do, but at least they had a running vehicle and I had cables; try though we might, however, we couldn’t get my car to start.
My husband showed up 15 minutes later, so I thanked our kind neighbours and sent them on their way. Try though he might, though – and he knows a lot about cars! – he couldn’t get the car to start, either. After much trying, he had it towed to the garage, and, a few days later, we still aren’t sure what the problem is. At any rate, I had some down-time while I waited for my husband to fetch another battery part-way through the operation, so, with nothing better to do, I took the opportunity to pause and reflect on my situation. What can be learned from a dead battery, anyway? I had some profound insights:
First and foremost, it would’ve been good for me to STAY CALM. It was not an emergency situation, and I was helping no-one by letting myself escalate in upsettedness. I knew, logically, that I needn’t freak out, but…. my mind didn’t listen to my heart.
I also recognised that it’s good to LEARN THE BASICS of car maintenance, such as jumping a dead battery. ‘Positive to positive, negative to negative or to the metal frame’ – I’d learned long ago how to do it, and that was certainly helpful to an extent, but I’d forgotten a lot and I felt like such a ninny getting the owner’s manual out of the glove compartment for a simple jump-start. (And, it was helpful to have the steps affirmed in the manual, AND it was helpful to hear my husband – the car guy – say that it doesn’t really matter which you do first.)
Undoubtedly one of the key lessons to be learned from this situation is to HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOUR! Who cares if I look like a ninny?! – I need to be able to laugh at myself, and not take it all so seriously. And, looking for – or at least being open to – the funny bits in this kind of scenario helps us keep our cool, too.
BE PATIENT. This lesson can probably be learned from every life event, can’t it?! Patience is seldom frowned upon. As I waited for my neighbours to arrive, as I waited for the battery to charge, as I waited for my husband to get the other battery, I needed to practice patience, because there was really nothing I could do to change the situation.
As I vacillated between alarm and calm and upset and self-doubt and laughing at the whole thing, I observed that it’s really helpful to KEEP ONE’S CHIN UP during this kind of situation. I was able to appreciate (in some blessed, albeit rare, moments!) that going with the flow and staying optimistic helped me stay positive, and that anything else was the hells, who – as they do – wanted me to be miserable.
Stepping back and viewing, or reviewing, this event helped me recognise that we really ought to APPRECIATE THE SMALL THINGS in life. Or maybe it should be ‘appreciate the BIG things’? My goodness, what a first-world problem this was! Here I was, freaking out initially and then getting down on myself later, when, come on, really, this was not a big deal. Yep, I ‘lost’ a couple of hours of my day, but fortunately no-one was hurt in the event, no-one was hurt as a result of my being stuck there for a couple of hours; I was very fortunate that those hours really didn’t matter anyway, in the grand scheme of things. The wise words of a dear relative come to mind: something like, “If money can fix it, it isn’t a big problem.” Sure, we didn’t want to have to pay the tow-truck driver to tow the car or the garage to fix it, but it’s just money. We’ll make more of it tomorrow.
Sitting there, in a coldish, darkish car as the sun began to set, awaiting my husband and the other battery, the thought struck me once again: there are NO COINCIDENCES. I can’t tell you why this happened, and I won’t try to dissect it, but I know, deep-down, that things happen for a reason. The ripple-down effect from every single action and moment is astonishing, and mind-boggling.
Speaking of appreciating the small (big?) things in life, I was reminded that I should APPRECIATE THE OPPORTUNITY TO PAUSE AND REFLECT. So often, any more – especially in this day and age, I would wager? – we (I!) keep myself so busy doing things, as though keeping busy were a badge of honour. Then there are the times that I’m not even being productive-busy, but busying myself scrolling through social media when I could be doing any number of other things. I could’ve turned to my phone during the waiting time, but I didn’t, mainly because I didn’t want to waste my battery while I was ‘stranded’ there (a ten-minute walk from my home, incidentally, so hardly stranded). I’m glad that I didn’t, because that’s when I paused and reflected on all this, observing these invaluable lessons that I’m hoping you can take on-board, too. A dead battery may seem like just a nuisance and a big waste of time, but as you can see from all this reflection, it isn’t so! There’s lots to be learned from even these most mundane things in life, if we open ourselves up to them. I invite you to pause, reflect and open yourself to the pearls of wisdom in your everyday situations, too.
Oh, and we mustn’t forget the last learnable lesson from this ‘dead battery’ experience, in which it turned out not to be the battery which was at fault, in the end: THINGS ARE NOT ALWAYS AS THEY SEEM!