This post illustrates A Clean Mind in action with something that seems trivial. It’s a great example of something small that can be the seed that grows and contributes to our being stressed out later in the day. But instead we can just whack it right then and there. Here we go…
After having my Subaru for 13 years and 254K miles, I drove it into four feet of water in a huge flood a few months ago. Broad daylight. No excuse. Totally avoidable. Instantaneous death of my car. I never thought this could possibly happen to me. This will be the subject of another post down the line, by the way. Anyway, I now have a VW Jetta diesel. It has a digital gas gauge, which is totally different than the one on my Subaru. After 13 years, I was intimately familiar with that needle as far as how close it was to running out of gas. That needle and I were one. Now I have no idea. When it’s on that last little digital block, I don’t know what that means. It doesn’t slowly dwindle from there, because there are no more digital blocks left – I guess it just disappears! The car said that I had 5 miles to go a few couple of hours ago, and I had assumed I could go much further. Time to go to the gas station.
Now, the whole diesel thing is new to me, so I’m learning that not all gas stations even have diesel gas. I was driving to one I knew of for sure, and that “5 miles to go” changed all of a sudden to “0 miles to go.” Sweet! I was pretty close to the gas station, so that was good. But with me staring at “0 miles to go,” the situation was definitely a bit tighter now. I was cool, though. I reminded myself that there was nothing I could do except what I could control – turn off the AC and put the windows down. Drive slowly. Use neutral when safe. Stay in the right lane as much as possible so as to be able to pull over if necessary. I was aware that the body was amped up a bit, but I was just aware of it, letting it be there without thought. It was normal to feel that way in this situation. No big deal. No other reaction necessary.
So I got to the station, and not all the pumps have diesel. I had only used one that had it, so for all I knew this was the only one. I pulled up to it, and what did it say? Out of order. Did I react? No. Why not? Because I’ve been practicing! I noticed the body react with some internal fireworks right away – it happens in a split second – but there was no thought because I know better. Just calmly walk over to the other side where there are more pumps and see if one of them has diesel. So I did that and sure enough one of them had diesel and I was all good. Had it not had diesel, I would’ve dealt with that in the best way possible. But until I knew I was in that situation, there’s absolutely no need for the mind to bother with it. It would only make me stressed out.
My point in telling this seemingly random, everyday story about getting gas is that there’s no reason to freak out and make things worse. Even a small freak out doesn’t help. Just check the other pump. And have I always been like this? No! I’ve learned and practiced “not freaking out” enough that it takes more and more to rattle me. Do I get rattled? Yes. Just not as often, though, and it’s getting better all the time.
When I got this car, my grandfather told me to watch out for the habit of a lifetime – reaching for that 87 octane pump. He said I could put something obvious like a skull and crossbones sticker by the gas cap to make it obvious. I laughed. He’s awesome… The habit of a lifetime that I’m talking about, though, is freaking out right away, jumping to conclusions, etc. And by “freak out” I don’t mean a full blown episode, but rather just letting the mind start running and doing its commentary. That chatter that does no good. Just calmly check the other pump.
Another big message here is that small, everyday challenges – even tiny things – are GREAT to practice on. Then bigger things will come up as tests to see how you’re doing You can often count on your family for that, too, as we all know. That’s another blog post, though… And to my family if you’re reading this – you’re awesome! Please keep in mind that I hear lots of people’s stories in my work… I hope that gets me out of hot water…