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Saturday, January 7, 2017

Heavy straws & a broken camel's back.

The other day I was involved in an accident in which the person in front of me hit a patch of ice on the highway, swerved into the wall and ended up stopped and perpendicularly positioned in front of me.  Even though I was driving cautious for the conditions, I had little reaction time.  I couldn't safely get over into the other lane, so I did the next best thing: I tried to slow down as quickly as I could to avoid hitting her.  Unfortunately, as often is the case, this was a doomed proposition.  

The resulting collision set off my airbag, destroyed my car and left me with a mild concussion & neck strain. Given the location of the accident, the cars had to be moved as quickly as possible.  Therefore, I could not just linger in my car and make calls.  A police officer was nice enough to drop me off at a safe location nearby such that I could stay out of the cold and start making calls. 

Being a problem solver by nature and not one to give up in tough jams, I proceeded to make calls.  I made a call into work and let my boss know what happened, to the insurance company to report the accident, to my wife to let her know I was safe, to a rental car company to get a car, and to the tow yard to set up retrieving my belongings from my now destroyed car.  I know having dealt with rough circumstances before & having faith that I could get through it.  The important thing is that I was safe and that everything else was replaceable or manageable.

Not realizing that I had a mild concussion, I took my daughter back to her mom's house later that day (as was previously scheduled).   So, I have a bag in which I carry a couple of medications of mine & which I was carrying her medicine.  I had taken that to her mom's house to drop off her meds with her mom.  I carried the bag in with me as I brought her other stuff in. Given the distractions with dropping off a rambunctious nine year old and the fogginess I didn't realize I had yet, I left the bag over there.  My haziness was such that I didn't remember even bringing it in with me.  So, I got home and was going to take the bag in from my car and came to realize I didn't have it.  I reached out to my daughter's mom & to a restaurant I'd stopped at to see if I'd left it either place.  Both indicated it wasn't there.  So, I went searching through the rental car and my own place extensively, but couldn't find it.  The brave front I'd been putting up had finally collapsed.  I thought I'd for sure lost my meds as well as those of my daughters.  Only later did her mom find the bag off to the side of the front room.  

Back to the story at hand.  Literally, I had a huge wall of uncertainty thrown up at me starting before 8 a.m. that day and I managed well, but a lost bag of meds that could be replaced if necessary got the best of me. The adrenaline/shock that took me through the day was already beginning to wear off, but it was compounded by a 'final' setback for the day.  I was besides myself and I had to literally force myself to try and sleep despite being very upset.  Looking back on it, I have a few takeaways.
  • Sometimes a concern is so big that we know that we can't immediately deal with it.  Therefore, in our mind, we allow for a significant time and amount of uncertainty rather than panic.  We just take it step by step.  Getting home/replacing the car/recuperating in my case.
  • It is the smaller things that we think we should be able to deal with that get to us.  Thinking I should have kept better track of the bag and that if I look and look and look, I will find it as its got to be around somewhere.
  • The big pressures of the day, I'd already factored in and had been resolved to a passable state (including the other driver's insurance accepting full liability).  But, they were still a burden on my shoulders.  I was not prepared for the final pressure.  In other words, for the day, it was the straw that broke the camels back.  Literally, I wasn't up to accepting another hit on the day.
  • The next morning, I started to make provisions to replace the lost medications.  Soon thereafter my daughter's mom informed me that she did have my bag after-all.  Therefore the stress and worry about it proved unnecessary.
    • One time when I was fretting aloud to another friend about a matter which I couldn't resolve late at night, she asked me: "Is there anything you can do about it now?".  I said, "No".  She's replied, "So, stop worrying about it."  I have always remembered that and always try to remember that when something is not in my control.
    • On more than one occasion, after getting bogged down with stress about a lost/unresolved circumstance, I've stopped and prayed about it.  A funny thing has happened on some of those occasions.  Literally, it is as if my mind was cleared and I was led to a finding what was lost or a solution.  Reminding me that prayer before the complete stress-out might be in order. 
Anyway, when you or someone around you starts to have a meltdown about what appears to be an easily manageable circumstance or seemingly unimportant decision or detail, realize that you may very well be looking at the straw on top of the mound of weight on the camel's back.  Realizing that the straw is on top of what the camel was barely able to carry anyway.  In other words, don't take it for granted that the meltdown is over the small detail or circumstance.  Address the detail of course, but be aware that you may need to address underlying weight that was really the problem.

Hopefully, this is a helpful reminder for those whom I reach.  Cheers.
- Rich

* This blog post I think ties in well to Letting go and letting God - The timing and art of letting go as our burdens often start with a significant loss.