If Heaven had a flavor ... it would be coffee.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Life's Skids

I just finished a book by Garth Stein, you know - the one about seeing life through the eyes of a dog.  I stopped into my favorite bookstore recently, Barnes and Noble, of all things, to look for a book.  There was one left on the shelf of  "The Art of Racing in the Rain". I hadn't heard of the book prior to this.  One left = must be good.  It didn't disappoint.  So, what is the rain?  Rain is troubles, problems, rough patches.  How does a great car racer keep his wheels on the track when he knows they're going to slide?  How does he prevent the slide ... by anticipating it -by preparing and by gently correcting what is most likely to be a crash.

One big lesson I have learned most recently in my life, is the art of prevention.  That is not to say that I am not spontaneous.  That does not mean that I don't step outside of the box. I've flown a Cessna, taken handgun  classes, gone to parties and dinners where I don't know anyone in the group, all in the quest of being spontaneous and stepping out of my comfort zone. Prevention to me means doing what I can to avoid a total slide off the road.

I have learned where my weaknesses are and plan accordingly.  I anticipate the fall before it happens.  I no longer ignore red flags, nor the blatant disregard in some people.  I acknowledge them to myself, and then excuse them from my life.  It can save a lot of misery.

Christmas was always a time when my credit card would get abused and it would spank me the rest of the year.  I now prepare months ahead by saving and buying with sales and  now the holidays are spent relaxing with family and no concerns for finances.  I adjust what I spend from year to year making more of what I give and buying less. One year in college I could not afford to buy any gifts for my family of eight.  Everyone encouraged me to still come home and be with the family.  It was a humbling Christmas as I opened each gift from my siblings.  Love  was abundant.  It was a valuable lesson about what is important.

I am a single woman now and have to think ahead because there is no one to fall back on.  I have to prepare for that mechanical failure and have the appropriate money, phone numbers, and spare available should my car fail.  I have a well behaved Honda that had never let me down all the way up to 250,000 miles.  My lawyer looked at me and said, "You're on your own now, you need a reliable vehicle."  My car was running beautifully, but she was right.  I needed to be ready for the skid.  Three days later I bought a Toyota Rav4.  I have a back up now and a vehicle roomy enough to bring home my own furniture instead of paying for it to be delivered.

I look at the job ads on a monthly basis - not because I work on shaky ground, but to be aware of what is out there for positions should I lose mine.  I prepare for moral dilemmas by avoiding situations that could test me.  I drink, but I don't get intoxicated.  I get my proper rest so I can be my very best for my very ill patients.  I disappoint myself greatly when I can't give my patients my everything, simply because I'm tired.

I won't be ready for every skid life hands me, but that's okay.  I'm sure when the day comes that I have to bury my parents it will knock the wind out of my sails.  I will have friends that will let me down, children that will disappoint, and I'm certain I'll burn my toast again, but I do have a safety net in my Lord.  Because of that I feel confident when going out on the track when it's wet.

I've had mishaps in my life of crushing magnitude and with each I have learned a little bit more about my strengths and weaknesses.  I've had a failed marriage, lost jobs, and trouble finding my footing within a clinical depression.  Each one has taught me valuable lessons that I pass on to my children and close friends.  If we stand tall and strong after we falter we are better equipped to assist others on their walk.  After all, we're supposed to be there for each other, right?

Ideally, a driver is a master of all that is around him.  Ideally a driver controls the car so completely that he corrects a spin before it happens, he anticipates all possibilities.  But we don't live in an ideal world.  In our world, surprises sometimes happen, mistakes happen, incidents with other drivers happen, and a driver must react.  When a driver reacts, it's important to remember that a car is only as good as it's tires. -Garth Stein.

                      It is important that your tires are strong and not turned sharply in the wrong direction.