A flat tire changed me

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

It’s Sunday. A good day to express gratitude if you take a traditional approach to these things. Actually, I take time every day to be grateful. It is part of my spiritual practice.

I have a lot to be grateful for this week. For one, I started a new job at the beginning of the week. In a job market that has more than 12% unemployment, it’s no small thing. That the job is actually a good fit for my skills and something I’m interested in is even better. As if that is not enough, the company culture, the benefits and not least of all, my boss and fellow employees, are all wonderful. I’m exceedingly grateful for this job.

But beyond that, and all of the friends and family who populate my life, I want to express gratitude for the California Highway Patrol who stopped when he saw I had a flat tire last Monday night. I had pulled over on a difficult stretch of the Interstate through the Sierra Nevadas where I could not even get out of the car to look at the tire. He reassured me and stayed behind my car until the tow truck arrived an hour later to change the tire. He said it was no big deal: he was just doing his job.

I don’t know about you, but most of the time I see the highway patrol, I get nervous. Why that should be, I don’t know. I rarely exceed the speed limit by more than 5 miles an hour, and I have a valid drivers license, car insurance and registration. I’m not a criminal. But for some reason, cops have made me nervous since I was a kid. Maybe it has something to do with my parents’ admonition when I was young that “if you’re bad, the policeman will come and take you away.” That was pretty scary for a little kid. I guess the fear stuck. So much of what we hear as children dominates our belief system for the rest of our lives. It makes it impossible for us to listen to reason sometimes.

Maybe this blog is about fear more than gratitude, but I think it’s about how an act of common decency can go a long way to change deep-seated limiting beliefs. Actually, it’s just about how silly some of those fears are. We all have them.

Because of the unfortunate incident of a flat tire, I have an altered, and more balanced perspective of something I’ve feared my whole life. Wouldn’t it be great if all of us could have an opportunity to examine our fears and find them unsubstantiated long enough to experience a different viewpoint?

If nothing else, it’s Sunday. Think about it.

Scrabble is like life

Monday, August 4th, 2008

Sometimes you look at the seven tiles you’ve got, and all you can think of making from them is a two letter word. That’s it, that’s all you’ve got this round. Other times you can take all seven letters, miraculously arrange them to form a big, fat juicy word with a “Q” or a  “Z” or an “X” or a “J” or all four of them across two triple word scores! If you play just for fun sometimes, like I do, and you show your letters to someone else, they immediately see the potential you can’t. You are amazed (and embarrassed) when they whip them into a word where you saw only yowling vowels or dissonant consonants. In either case, you’ve got all the tiles, but you just can’t put them together.

So what if you can only make a two or three letter word that doesn’t land on any colored squares? You still get to pick a couple of new ones. There is fresh potential in every pick, every round, every set of seven letters. It’s all in the way you “see” them.

Like I said, Scrabble is like life.