On Sunday as I was pulling out of the Trader Joe’s parking lot, the power steering in my new car gave way.
At that moment, I became profoundly aware that I had a car. A car that is transporting me to school every day. A car that allows me to take Max to hockey and to carry a trunk full of groceries home in the heat. My chest, neck and shoulders all began to tighten as I contemplated what the next few days would be like without the use of this precious car. That tightness could have been a springboard to a whole downward spiral of panic.
Instead I used it as a bell. A call to make a different decision. Instead of contemplating its loss–what if I celebrated its presence? This was something I am learning in school. It was a chance to practice. The truth is dwelling on the problem would only have given rise to panic and my panic would not have served me. It would have not helped me solve my problem and was about to cause me a whole world of suffering. So I decided to chose a new practice of gratitude.
I started from where I was. I was able to turn the car using a bit of muscle. I could take it the two miles home. The frozen chicken in the trunk would not melt. I was grateful for that one small detail. I was grateful the whole way home, at every stop light, I noticed how far it had carried me. Whenever panic began to rise in my throat I told myself. “I have a car–a car that serves me well. It is taking me home.” Those words changed the whole way I held my body.
Surprisingly, I was feeling calm when I got home, not in the funk I might take on when my carefully orchestrated reality starts to unravel. I made a phone call to a friend and found myself blessed once again. For I had a friend who would loan me her car for a day or two while my broken one to the shop. I had a way to school and it only required one phone call. How easy!
The next morning, I made a call to the magic auto repair garage in my neighborhood. Milo the Magnificent made a quick decision that the car wasn’t safe and even though they were booked (and it required me to rush out of the house at that minute) they would take my car if I could get it there quickly. He didn’t promise me an answer anytime soon but he wanted to be sure it was off the road and safe at their place until they could take a peak. I may have felt panicked about what the visit to the garage might do to my carefully planned morning schedule but I decided to make a different choice. As I walked into the garage that morning, I declared myself joyful. It was a beautiful morning. I had mechanics who care and my car had given me an excuse for an early morning walk through the neighborhood.
When they called just a few hours later to tell me about the expensive repairs that were looming, I did not despair. Instead I chose to focus on how pleasantly surprised I was that they had looked at it so quickly and grateful that I had cash in the bank. I had a car. I had the cash. I am lucky. Lucky. Lucky.
When I went that afternoon to pick up my car, I didn’t feel tense, sick or even the slightest bit resentful, even though I was handing over hundreds that I hadn’t planned to spend. Instead I felt nothing but gratitude–for the car, the mechanics, the cash.
When my power steering hose (and another belt or two) gave way, I never imagined it would be a gift. It woke me up to a present moment both abundant and blessed.
I have a car.
I have a generous friend.
I have an efficient and fair mechanic.
I have sufficient cash.
The world is beginning to show up new. Full. Rich. I am lucky indeed. I am so grateful for the leaking power steering hose that reminded me of this. Life has showing up as abundance and it took a broken down car to point me to it. I am so glad I can finally see.