Monday, March 25, 2013

The Little Car That Could


My life has been full of terrible misfortunes, most of which never happened. ~Montaigne

My last post ended with a cliffhanger – did I get snowed in or not when I drove my little city car (a friend calls it my “toy” car) up to my cabin? Some of you remembered that I have no Internet up there, so you properly surmised that I had made it home in order to post something on my blog. But there is a bit more to the story.

Although I had a lovely afternoon taking a long walk in the virgin snow, going down by the creek, and reading by the fire, I remained on the fence about whether to pack up and go home or stay overnight. After dinner and some more reading, I took one more look outside as the fire died down. There were a couple of inches of powdery snow on the ground, but the snow had been melting all day almost as fast as it came down. I went on to bed.

Friday morning I awoke early and looked out of the window by my head in the sleeping loft. Oh oh. Snow covered everything. I came down the ladder and looked at my car, completely covered with four to five inches. The snow on the ground reached up and touched the low riding bumper. The car looked disgruntled, and seemed to be saying to me, “I could be safe and warm in the garage right now, but nooooooo.” I felt guilty.

And anxious. I had gambled, but had I lost? Being snowed in on many days would not be a big deal. I could just wait it out. But I wanted to be back in town by late morning to meet up with a friend passing through town on business, a friend I had not seen in many years. This was my one window of opportunity to see her before she headed back to Europe.

I reassured myself that the worst case scenario was that I would have to do some shoveling to get the car up the long driveway to the one lane road, where I hoped the plow had made a pass through in the wee hours. I put on my coat and boots and walked up to see. Yes, the road was plowed, so once I got that far, I could get to the highway.

It was still snowing, and just in case the snow shovel was going to get some use, I decided to forego breakfast and get moving. I downed some juice and called it good. I swept the snow off the car and scraped the windows. I was packed up in no time.

Ignition on. Shift into drive. The car inched forward a few inches, and then a few inches more. Easy on the gas. Up the drive we went without hesitation. As we got to the top I saw that the plow had left a small ridge of snow across the drive. The plowed road was just beyond. A little more gas to get a running start. My toy car pushed right through, and soon I was on the highway headed home.

Now I felt foolish about the time I had wasted thinking about whether I would get snowed in and about what I would do if I did. Instead of a relaxing time at the cabin, I had spent a lot of my time uneasy. Fretting even though I knew that I would be able to get out one way or another. On top of that, I had skipped breakfast and I was hungry. All that thinking had no effect at all on how much it snowed or whether I would make it home on time. The only effect was to interfere with my being fully present, fully grateful, fully peaceful, fully joyful. Lesson learned.

If a problem has a solution, there is no need to worry. If a problem doesn’t have a solution, there is no need to worry. ~The Dalai Lama

related posts: It Is Not So; Expecting Ponies; You Have To Be Present To Win

48 comments:

  1. That quote from the Dalai Lama is perfect. Worry is insidious, it finds ways to worm itself into your thoughts no matter how strong you are.

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    1. Cairn, So true. Even as I was fretting, I was aware that I was, and also aware that it served no purpose. But every time I would let it go, it would creep right back! Thanks for commenting.

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  2. Oh boy! This post is for me. I am copying down both of those quotes. So good! Glad you made it out. Sorry you spent your time worrying (been there). Hopefully, you reconnected with your old friend. Thanks for another inspiring post =)

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    1. Kim, I did reconnect with her. We took a nice walk along the river that goes right through downtown Portland. It was a short visit, but I'm glad I didn't miss it. Thanks for your comment and glad the quotes are helpful today.

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  3. Love to read all your experiences Galen :)

    It reminded me of the time when we were caught up in the snow once when we were young and had gone with our Dad to see the snow. We had to get the snow cutter and put those chains around the tyres to make the car move ahead - and what a scary drive that was - though long back :)

    Perfect quote by the Dalai Lama to end your post :)

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    1. Harleena, I had chains, too...back in my garage in town. Ha! Thanks for sharing your story and for your comment.

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  4. So glad you made it out safely, Galen. And, the quote from the Dalai Lama is a perfect match for your story.
    Blessings, my friend!

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    1. Martha, I should have that quote tattooed on my arm or someplace where I'll see it often! Thanks for commenting.

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  5. I'm glad you got home safely. I have been where you were so many times: worrying about things over which I had no control, losing peace of mind and relaxation because of the anxiety. It seems like I have to keep on learning that lesson! I don't know when it's going to sink in. I love the quote from The Dalai Lama. I'm going to have to keep that one.

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    1. Tina, I think we all have to learn it many times. Glad you liked the quote. Thanks for commenting.

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  6. I enjoy reading your adventure. I often find it hard to be in the present because I am worrying about one thing or another. This was a good reminder to stop doing that. I am happy you got out safely. I loved the quote.
    Blessings!

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    1. LeAnn, We often wander away from the present. It's so easy! I'm glad the post and the quote were helpful. Thanks for commenting.

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  7. I am so glad it ended well. I could learn something from the Dalai Lama's quote. I often wonder if worrying over the things I can not control makes me feel like I am in control. I am not sure if that made any sense.

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    1. Bonnie, Yes, I know what you mean. I used to think that if I remained vigilant, I could prevent bad things from happening. I was an Olympic worrier. But I finally realized that this was another way of trying to control things I can't control. It's hard to believe that our worrying really has no effect on things outside our control. But if we can believe it even for a moment, it is tremendously liberating. Thanks for your comment.

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  8. More than a week ago, my brother-in-law reminded me of this saying: when there is nothing to do, do nothing. This essentially means not to rush into things when things are not clear or when things are beyond your control. Worrying does not help. The best is to have a cup of tea to wait out the moment. Only spring into action when things become clear.

    The saying was an advice that originated from a Buddhist monk. It has helped my family and I as an important reminder!

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    1. Evelyn, That is a great saying! I had forgotten it, so thank you for reminding me of it. It's like what Pema Chodron said -- "Sit! Stay! Heal!" That always cracks me up. Thanks for commenting. And I think I will go have another cup of tea.

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  9. Good to hear everything turned out ok Galen! So many lessons about impermanence, not worrying about the little stuff, not having control in our life and not worrying about things we have no control over. If you observed and took note of these lessons the snow was teaching, it was a very fruitful experience:)

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    1. Vishnu, The snow did have a lot to teach. Like many students, I learned some of it, but my mind wandered! Thanks for commenting.

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  10. I couldn't relate to the snow because I come from a country where the only seasons are summer and summer with rain hehe But I could definitely relate to the worrying and how much time I wasted because of it. Great quote at the end! :-)

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    1. Irene, Then you might be in a place with other natural phenomena that can change your plans--like monsoons. I lived in the tropics for five years and loved the rainy season with the daily downpours. Thanks for your comment.

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  11. Well said, Galen. Reminds me of the time I was about to attend mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan and realized just before it started that I'd lost my Blackberry. Had come to church all ready for some spiritual renewal but spent the whole time thinking about where the phone was! Of course I found it next morning. Glad to hear this happens to you as well!

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    1. Ah, such indecision! How well I can relate to the "do I or don't I" thought process. So glad to know all is well AND that in spite of time spent stewing, you did get some down time. Selfishly, I'm grateful for your experience. You wrote two beautiful posts and passed along some valuable wisdom.

      Have a great rest of your week in the city!

      P.S. Is the cabin photo a picture of your cabin? I see why you go there!

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  12. Ah! A happy ending! :D Didn't doubt it, anyway.

    I wanted your post to go on and on! :D

    We've been stuck at home only once, when it rained heavily and everything was closed. It poured and poured for four days in a row. Of course we played in the rain! :D

    Hugs!

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    1. Vidya, When I lived in Bangkok, our neighborhood was flooded for several days during monsoon season. I was scheduled to fly back to the US for a visit, but we couldn't get from our house to the main road for three days. Our neighbors koi fish swam out of their pond and into our yard, where we waded around catching them in net and returned them in a bucket until the water went down. So I know what you mean about those heavy rains! Thanks for commenting.

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  13. Love the quote, Galen (which is so true), and I'm really glad you made it home safe. I was worried about you the whole time I was reading this! I know how tricky snow can be in a car that isn't equipped to handle it. I've gotten stuck myself many times, and it can be quite scary when you're alone. Hooray for good fortune! :-)

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    1. Jennifer, I have had some close calls in the snow as well. My little car was a trooper, but next time I'll take the all wheel drive SUV! Thanks for your comment.

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  14. Oh goodness, it is great that your little car that could did! Sometimes we can just worry ourselves sick. What a perfect fit with your quotes to your story. I really like the opening quote a lot too. Great also that you meet your friend too!

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    1. Karen, Yes, I'm glad I got back in time to meet her, too. We had a nice walk and chat together. Glad you liked the quotes. Thanks for commenting.

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  15. I absolutely love the quote, it's so true even tough from time to time I find myself worrying about trivial things, I'm getting better at not worrying so much, but my humanness comes out every now and again.

    We had the same crazy making snow you did and I was going to leave the city that day, I quickly changed my mind when I seen how horrible the weather was and stayed put for another two days, I wasn't worried as I knew it wasn't meant for me to get out on the highway just yet. I'm not back in my home town staying with a friend with no internet access other than coming to town and sitting in the local library or using my cell phone which I only check in from time to time. There's no need racking up an enormous phone bill on data, that would give me something else to worry about so why bother! lol

    I'm go glad to hear you connected with your friend and thank you so much for the quote, this is one I'm going to definitely print out and put on my desk as a reminder to myself!

    Have a wonderful week Galen.

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    1. darlin, In your part of the world, snow is a fact of life! Sounds like you have a good attitude about it. Thanks for sharing your story and for commenting.

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  16. I simply love the little car that could. So very glad you got back safe.

    We probably shouldn't be too hard on ourselves. Worry is hardwired into us and even though sometimes it's wise to be wary... how often it is that grace and good fortune will see us through.

    Lovely post Galen... thank you :)

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    1. Jean, You are right. There is no benefit in heaping self judgment on top of the worry! Thanks for pointing that out. And for commenting.

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  17. I love this quote "My life has been full of terrible misfortunes, most of which never happened. ". It's so true....I'm also making a conscious effort to get rid of such worries, as they have no constructive effect at all...

    Cornel

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    1. Cornel, Me, too. I think if we become more aware of when we are worrying, we can then make a choice to redirect our thoughts. Thanks for commenting.

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  18. Yes the story did have a happy ending - my favorite kind.

    Oh that worry bug...sometimes I look down when I am working and say My hands look like my mothers - that is okay and brings up memories of working in the kitchen or garden - what is not okay is when I realize I am WORRYING just like my mother - it is scary actually, for she was a chronic worrier. I do know I need to work on meditation and deep breathing right away - pronto

    You certainly got to enjoy the beauty of a bit of spring snow and mountain calm...lucky you
    Good story telling found here

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    1. Patricia, You are right that worrying can be passed down through generations. I'm glad you are stopping it with yours! Thanks for commenting and for the kind words.

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  19. Mark Twain has a very similar quote about not worrying about things that never happen. I've been having anxiety about several things lately and I'm trying to apply this thought but it's so hard while you're going through it, isn't it? Intellectually you know you shouldn't worry but you can't control that pit in your stomach. I've been working on a very similar post lately. Time to let go and yet I can't...
    Thanks for helping with your wonderful post Galen!!

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    1. Betsy, Yes, I have seen that quote also attributed to Mark Twain, but I believe Montaigne said it first. Great minds think alike! Looking forward to your post. Thanks for your comment and your kind words.

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  20. I'm glad you came home safely.That's the most important thing.
    Mwah :)!

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    1. Jasmina, Thanks. I appreciate your comment.

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  21. Years ago when I lived in Salt Lake City near the mouth of one of the cantons that lead to a ski resort, we would get a foot or more of snow at a time. Even with excellent snow plowing we could be stuck inside for a day. Of course, being inside your home probably feels quite a bit different than inside a cabin halfway to Mount Hood!

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    1. Bob, Most times, I would be quite content to be snowed in at either place! Thanks for commenting.

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  22. On my birthday I had a rare chance to go clothes shopping all by myself, with my husband home watching the kids. My car battery was fussing lately, and on the stop at Office Depot it almost didn't catch. I went on to the mall, parked, said a prayer, and did my shopping, knowing that worst case scenario, I would call AAA for a new battery. I just didn't want to ruin my couple of hours to myself having fun by spending my Sunday birthday looking for an auto repair place! Sure enough, it started one last time for me and I made it home. AAA came out and gave me a new battery while I was home with the family. Hooray! So glad you made it!

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    1. Julie, You can relate! So glad your battery cooperated and you had a fun time on your birthday. Thanks for commenting.

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  23. I loved the first quote. It resonnated with so many of my conversations this week. We really create so much of our own suffering, and when we figure this out, people sometimes hold onto it more firmly. Or judge. So unfortunate!

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    1. Jodi, I used to spend so much time spinning out terrible tales of woe which, as the quote says, never happened. What a waste of energy. I'm glad you liked the quote. And thanks for commenting.

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  24. Oh man, does this ever resonate with me--wasting time fretting about things that will never occur when I could be relaxing. I try to remember that if I'm focused on either the past or the future (which seems to be my bugaboo) I'm not living in the here and now. This is an ongoing process for me!

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    1. Charlotte, We all spend a lot of time in the past and future, I think. Whatever we can do to bring us back to the present is a good thing. Thanks for your comment.

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