10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place (and Staying There) is a program to help us develop habits to grow a joyful spirit. Many of us sabotage our happiness by habits that we might not even be aware of. Identifying and changing these habits can build a reservoir of well-being to enhance our happy times and sustain us during challenging times.
Monday, November 19, 2012
A Shining Moment in the Darkness
This time of year, the weather in Portland is often dark and rainy, like today. The clouds hang low, drivers turn on their headlights in the middle of the day, people buy full spectrum light boxes to chase away winter doldrums.
This morning I was driving in the inside lane of a four lane street. A big red commercial van was slightly ahead on my right in the curb lane. The light was green as we approached an intersection. A pickup truck suddenly turned right from the other street just in front of the van. (Right turns on red are permitted here when safe.) I hit my brakes as the van swerved into my lane and around the truck to avoid plowing into the truck. The accident was averted, and the van and I proceeded with the truck falling in behind me.
As we approached the next intersection, I pulled alongside the van. The driver was waving at me. The light turned yellow and we both stopped. I rolled down my window, and thinking he had mistaken me for the careless driver, I smiled and called out, “It wasn’t me!”
He replied, “I know. I just wanted to thank you for slowing down so that I could go into your lane.” I told him he had done a good job of avoiding the accident and I was glad he was all right. As we conversed, I noticed for the first time the company information on his van. It was a lighting company, advertising various types of lighting they installed. We both cautioned each other to drive safely and went on with our mornings.
As I headed on home, I thought about how he brings light into the darkness for a living. How interesting. And also, he brought light into my dark morning. When I rolled down my window, he could have gone off about crazy drivers and so on. We were both rattled by the incident. But instead, he took the opportunity to thank me for helping him avoid the accident, and we wished each other safe travels. I know I was more alert as I drove home. And also happier because of our brief connection.
My word for the year this year is Shine. As the days shorten and the gray settles in, it seems to me that this is an excellent word for me to focus on in the remaining weeks of this year. I hope that, like this driver, I can bring light into the darkness, of my own life and the lives of others. I hope that my light shines brightly, reminding me that the light is always present and that we all enter the light together.
Has someone brought light into a dark place for you lately?
related posts: What Are You Writing in Your Book?; The Kindness of Strangers
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"Shine" is a great word! The driver of the van probably has no idea that he had a positive impact on you, just as you and I don't necessarily know what impact we have on those we come in contact with or that someone needs what we can be.ReplyDelete
Kim, That's so true. If you read the related post What Are You Writing in Your Book?, you will see that I wrote about just this thing. We go through our days leaving a wake behind us that ripples over all the people we come in contact with. Thanks for commenting.Delete
Oh, what an en-"lighten"-ing post, dear Galen! :) Absolutely love your story here.ReplyDelete
Yes, too often, it seems, people want to get angry and blame when unfortunate things happen or are narrowly avoided. So glad this gentleman and you enjoyed a kindly, courteous exchange.
And, in this season of Advent, as the nights grow longer, may we remember in hope the coming Light of the World.
Blessings, my friend!
Martha, It's easy to do. When we are startled or frightened, we often react with anger. I know I do sometimes. This driver modeled for me another choice. Instead of getting angry about what could have happened, he focused on the blessings of what did happen. Thanks for your comment.Delete
It seems funny, but more often than not is it a stranger, that steps up and makes our day shine. Not that those around us don't, as they do, but it seems so extra special when someone at a time (like your experience today) especially when often drivers can bring your day to total madness quick enough- come out of the darkness spreading their light. We are a wonderful lot really.ReplyDelete
Karen, That is an interesting observation. So true that we often overlook opportunities to be kind to those closest to us. It was a happy ending to a scary incident. Thanks for commenting.Delete
That was beautifully written Galen!ReplyDelete
I loved the way the driver and you connected and interacted, and yes, a major accident could have occurred and am glad it didn't!And yes, there could easily have been fire-works from his side or even yours, but I liked how things were resolved calmly.
"Shine"...a simple word but with a powerful meaning that instantly brightens up the mood. For me, it's the shining faces of my loved ones that brighten up my gloomy day. :)
Harleena, Shining faces of your loved ones--that is a wonderful image to go with "shine." Thanks for your comment.Delete
I am so glad to know that nothing untoward happen to me. It is also wonderful that your morning ended well. What a nice gentleman he is!ReplyDelete
Recent events had rather been traumatic. I have been praying for light. It is also interesting that I am reading your post this morning. I woke up from a dream last night and in my dream, I saw light shining from the end of a tunnel. Yes, there is hope.
Shine - what a great word!
Evelyn, I'm so sorry that you are going through a traumatic time. I hope that everything moves towards a peaceful resolution. Your dream was certainly a hopeful image. And that is interesting that the theme of shining connects us today. Thanks for your comment.Delete
SHINE....I like that Galen.....SHINE.....PERFECT, my friend!!!!!!ReplyDelete
Jo, Thank you!Delete
Galen: I am never in a metaphorically dark place. In literal terms, I love the darkness. It lights up a hidden world of harmony. Whether one is deep in the woods, alone at sea, or on a busy roadway, everything works better in harmony. You and the van driver both found the light for one reason. You both looked for it.ReplyDelete
JJ, I was up at my cabin this last weekend. The cabin is surrounded by tall forest trees, so it is often in shadows even on a sunny day. On a dark, wet, winter day, I feel like I'm hibernating up there! I definitely experience a hidden world of harmony in the dark there. Thanks for commenting.Delete
I do believe that is why I no longer drive. I am so glad to hear an accident was avoided. As I read your story I started to feel the fear I get when I have no choice but to drive.ReplyDelete
I do remember your word shine. It is very appropriate for this season.
Bonnie, I have learned to be a very nonagressive driver. I take my time, stay calm, and send blessings to all the drivers around me. Glad you like my word! Thanks for commenting.Delete
What an inspiring interaction! Just to think the driver stopped you to express his gratitude is so uplifting. You shine bright in my life and I have every confidence you will continue to shine bright through the rest of the year.ReplyDelete
Sandra, I know. I was so pleasantly surprised. Thanks for your kind words.Delete
Someone went Ga Ga over a book I wrote and spoke about it to all in a birthday part of his daughter! showing the downloaded copy around in his ipad. I was slightly embarrassed but drenched with gratitude at the same time for the SHINE he brought in my day!ReplyDelete
Jerly, Isn't that wonderful? How lovely (and yes, maybe a bit embarrassing) to receive such effusive and genuine support. That was a shining moment indeed. Thanks for commenting.Delete
Your book was a welcome light to my life. Keep shinning.ReplyDelete
Myrna, Thank you for your kind words.Delete
A lovely post. I'm so glad an accident was avoided. And how wonderful to have a positive interaction with the van driver! I like how you chose a word for the year. Shine definitely sounds appropriate for this incident.ReplyDelete
Tina, I choose a word every New Year's Eve for the following year. It's not a resolution or even an aspiration. It is more of a reminder or guide word. If you read my first post of the year, you can find out more about my word-choosing ritual! Thanks for commenting.Delete
Sweet! Reminds me of the first time I met my bread-van driver years ago. Used to think he was the Grim Reaper - until he smiled one day and literally shone. Now we're fast friends.ReplyDelete
Life always shines. Sometimes we just have to gently wipe our own glasses. Helps if they're rose colored. :D
Hugs! Happy Thanksgiving. You shine in my heart.
Vidya, People can be so invisible to us until they smile. Smiling connects us in a very real way. Thanks for the holiday wishes. You shine in my heart, too!Delete
Your post was a shining example of what can happen if one is focused on the light! We are trying to drive in San Francisco this week - taking the scenic trip down the coast to get here. On the weaving S curves of the coast we were all careful of each other and all the bicycles on the road. Last night was another story.ReplyDelete
We went to Oakland for a Chris Zydel Intuitive Painting Workshop, which was just so fun and I am grateful for the experience and to finally meet another blogger in person. On the way home the freeway was much clearer but the aggression of the other drivers made us miss two of our exits and we have to figure out how to get back to home base by another way. We both needed to sit in the car and debrief before joining our family so we would not track in that scary stuff....I think being able to be in Nature on the one trip offered us more light and openness. Whew I am glad no one was hurt on any of the trips
Aggressive drivers for the holidays! Driving can be stressful, and we can add to the road stress or try to calm it, for ourselves and others. I like your tip about debriefing before you "track" in negative energy. I'm going to try that. Thanks for commenting.Delete
I'm always amazed at how often perfectly nice people become rude jerks as soon as they gain the anonymity of their car. So good for you and your "friend" for being as thoughtful and polite "in car" as you are in real life.ReplyDelete
P. S. Goin' to check out your book . . . we have a friend at what sounds like a similar place, the Keon Center -- http://www.keoncenter.org/index.php/homehorizontal. We hire them to do our yard every fall -- and they do good work!
Tom, Yes, we are like little children covering their eyes and thinking no one can see them!Delete
Hope you like the book. I will check out the Keon Center. Thanks for pointing it out to me.
Thank you Galen for this very post. I was touched by your thoughts. I think the word shine; it is a wonderful one to think about. I love your posts and they always bring bring light to me. I am happy you are safe and that you had this sweet moment of gratitude and kindness. On the roads today you don't often find these kinds of experienes.ReplyDelete
Blessings to you and have a wonderful Thanksgiving celebraton.
Thanks, LeAnn, for your kind words. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, too. I'm looking forward to pumpkin pie!Delete
That's an interesting perspective on how to view the future and act on it.. .. to figure out how to make most of light, how to bring more of it into our lives and to do away with many of the shadows that have have dogged our steps these past years.ReplyDelete
B M, I like your focus of looking into the future without all the shadows of the past. Thanks for commenting.Delete
This is so sweet. My son had his braces broken and sharp and someone had to come in on emergency during this holiday to fix them so he can have a comfortable Thanksgiving. I felt horrible, but they made me feel so good when we went in like it was no big deal for them. It was such kindness!
Jodi, You gotta love folks like that. My dentist came in once on New Year's Eve for a dental emergency. And when my dog Sadie died last summer, the vet and staff stayed long past closing to give me time to say goodbye. Like you said, they all made it seem like it was not an imposition. So kind and generous. Thanks for commenting.Delete
I don't think I could live in that weather. We were in Maine last year, but it was during the time of year that days were really long. The sun came up so early! And there were all these stories about the dark, cold winters. Brrr!ReplyDelete
I love these little 'notices' in life. I think most often they are there - they are just overlooked or we don't trust the messages. Too bad for that - but glad that you are noticer.
Nicole, Sometimes the winter weather gets to me, but for the most part, I have grown accustomed to the rhythm of the seasons here. Every time I grow weary of the rain, I remind myself of the amazingly lush vegetation that I love so much in the summer. So many shades of green.Delete
You are right that we often overlook these small encounters that are like little treasures.
Thanks for commenting.
I am looking forward to having the infusion of light at the beginning of the new year. I believe becoming a part of the Course in Miracles is the perfect way to start off the new year. Thanks for the opportunityReplyDelete
I'm looking forward to it, too! It is indeed a great way to start the year. So glad you are going to be a part of it.Delete
I love your idea of choosing 'Shine' for the year. What a great one! I am going to use this exact word for my 2013 quantum leap for my business. I trust that you do not mind making such a positive impact on my journey to shine :)
I am working on winning an award trip to Malaysia in October 2013 :)
Many people under-estimate how we can bring light into the darkness for doing some of the most simple things! Sometimes, it is not about using our time is this busy world. It is about HOW we use our time in this busy world.
Thanks, Galen, for your insights!
Viola, You will like this word, and what a great way to use it! Good luck with your trip aspiration! Thanks for your comment and your kind words.Delete
Reading this post lightened my afternoon Galen...very refreshing. Thankyou.ReplyDelete
be good to yourself
David, Glad you liked it! Thanks for stopping by.Delete
Your word "shine" brings in to my mind so many positive thoughts, Galen. Yes I have come across so many people who bring in light to my life. I make a conscious effort now to look for light even in my darkness and if you look hard there is always a light somewhere in the darkness. Your post was inspiring as always. I will continue to look for light in my deepest of darkness. God bless you.ReplyDelete
Rimly, Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and the kind words.Delete
"This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine..." I think that suites you well.ReplyDelete
I love that song!Delete
What a lovely story Galen. Thank you for sharing it and so glad you and van are defenceive drivers.ReplyDelete
SHINE this is a great word. Today is a rather gloomy day here and your story has brightened my day.
Thanks, Debbie! Shine is helping me get through these gloomy days of winter!Delete