The other morning I broke a glass in the kitchen sink. Later that evening another slipped from my hand and shattered into a dozen little pieces on the hardwood floor. As I cleaned up the broken shards of glass I said a silent “thank you” into the universe.
Somewhere over the past 10 years I had started comparing my life to cars and highways. I don’t recall the exact moment that my mind grasped this concept, but one day I realized that a broken glass was like a chip in a windshield. A little inconvenient but easily fixed.
I started to think that chipped windshields and fender benders would somehow ward off the head on collisions in my life. Head on collision is my metaphor for the 3AM phone call that delivers news that drops you to your knees and steals your ability to breathe . Believe me, I know how irrational this sounds. But what if we experienced the door dings, chipped windshields, and fender benders in our life with less negative emotions? If we understood them to be nothing more than the bumpy road we find ourselves on? If we treated them with less significance and spent more of our time focusing on the scenery? It will not make the head-on collisions less painful, but it may make the rest of our road trip more pleasant.
Job loss , new baby, or divorce? Detour ahead
Quarrel with a friend or spouse? Car door ding.
Injury or illness? Bumpy road ahead
I have received the life altering cancer diagnosis twice in my lifetime; once for skin cancer and once for thyroid. Neither of them were head-on collisions. Skin cancer turned out to be basal cell and not the more invasive melanoma. I had MOHS surgery and was back on the road within a few weeks. Nothing more than a sideswipe with little damage. My thyroid cancer involved surgery, but I didn’t need chemo or radiation. Again, not the life-altering treatment that so many cancer patients experience. For me it was just a little fender bender.
I am aware that nothing can truly ward off the inevitable head-on collision in our lives. However, once I started using this metaphor for life I began spending less time worrying about the little things and focused more on what truly mattered.
So what does pure joy look like in my car/highway metaphor? Pure joy is flying along on the autobahn with windows down and music blaring. It’s cruising highway 101 with the sun roof open and breathing in the salty ocean air. It’s laughing so hard you can barely catch your breath. It’s believing with every ounce of your being that there has never been a more magnificent moment than the one you are experiencing.