As I mentioned in the post on timing, I drove my car into waist deep water in broad daylight a few months ago. Now I will come clean with what went down. This story illustrates how a person who makes his living teaching people how to be as peaceful as possible might handle such a situation. Did I do a “perfect” job at it? Definitely not! But was it WAY better than it would have been before I learned how to be more at peace? Oh hells yeah…
So we had this crazy, random flood in Pensacola earlier this summer (June 2012). It rained and rained and rained. It was the most rain in a 24-hour period here since 1934. That includes legendary hurricanes Camille (1969), Frederic (1979 – the first I remember at age 6), Ivan (2004), and all of the other ones since 1934. Really?? Yes. That’s a lot of rain…
So I had been helping an old friend hold a ladder in his attic because he was trying to deal with a leaky chimney. It was around noon. I was headed home to take a nap on the couch. What better to do on a weekend day with non-stop rain? I was driving down a road I’ve driven down a thousand times, totally on auto-pilot. My friend later told me he felt guilty for not telling me to avoid that road, because it tends to flood pretty badly. I thanked him and told him absolutely no worries – I still have two good eyes and could’ve seen the lake I drove into. Plus, who knows what is good or bad? It would be easy to label this as bad, but I’m not qualified to judge. The engine could’ve blown up on the way to a friend’s wedding a month after. Maybe I was spared from that experience? I simply do not know. Back to the story…
So I’m driving down this street headed home. Now, I’m in my trusty 1999 Subaru with 254K miles on it, all driven by me. Australian for car. All wheel drive. Great clearance. I’ve lived in the mountains and have driven in many hairy places in this car, so I’m not even slightly worried. I was driving like it was any other day, thinking about how good that couch was going to feel.
And then I hit the water. I remember thinking something like, “Damn, that’s all the way up to my tires.” At that point, the thing to do clearly would’ve been to slam on the brakes, look around, and assess the situation. Did I do that? No. That didn’t even cross my mind, in fact. I probably had a split second thought that went something like, “How could it get deeper than this?” In the next instant, though, it did. And I realized in that moment that I had really messed up. It happened very quickly, and all of a sudden, the car felt weird, like the back wheels were floating. The engine stopped. Adrenalin kicked in, and I tried to restart the car. No dice. Then water started coming in around where my feet were. Adrenalin really kicked in now, since any movie I’ve ever seen where a car goes off a bridge into water came into my mind. Same feeling, even though I’m clearly not in a life or death situation. A very weird feeling. I tried to open the door, and it wouldn’t open because of the water pressure. At this point, I told myself, “You screwed up, dude, but it’s done. Gotta deal with the situation.” The electrical system still worked, so I rolled the window down and climbed out, Dukes of Hazzard style, into waste deep water. Now it’s time to deal.
This angel of a guy was right there watching the whole time, and he helped me pull the car as far as we could toward dry ground and then tow it out with his truck. His truck ended up being too low, but another truck drove by right at that moment that was higher. The driver backed into the water as far as he could and towed me out. He drove off before I could thank him, probably to go help someone else. Or many other people. My car was destroyed, but it was in a parking space at least, out of the way. Water had come up to the middle of the steering wheel. Engine ruined, electrical ruined. Car ruined.
A friend drove by right when the car got moved and asked what had happened. I said, “I’ve screwed up, that’s what’s happened! But it’s done. What are you doing?” He had his neighbor in his car, and this guy had done the same thing a block over. So I hopped in and we went and towed that guy’s car out to higher ground.
During all of this, there was no time to beat myself up or think about how bad this was. This is because we had things to do. When all was done, though, and I got back home, that’s when those thoughts were able to start coming. As they came, though, I let them go. I did my best to not let my mind race. It had happened, so I had to accept it. There’s no time machine to go back and simply step on the brakes at that one crucial moment. Or take another route home. I did lots of feeling and releasing (read about Feelings 101 or The Sedona Method). Feeling very angry was normal in that situation. Feeling utterly stupid and idiotic was normal in that situation. Feeling sad was normal in that situation (me and my car were pretty tight). But just feel and let the feelings flow through without getting stuck. They just need to be felt, and then they can move on. That’s the Law of Feelings (that they don’t teach us growing up despite being able to put a man on the moon).
I was in a bit of a pissy mood the next couple of days, and I know that I was short with people. I was aware of it, though, so I tried to limit my interactions as much as possible. I did my best without judging it, and I continued to feel and let it go. LOTS of feeling. Move forward and deal with it. Friends and family were hugely helpful in loaning me cars, and then I eventually found my next car. I don’t like buying cars, so that was stressful. But I know how to handle stress, so I didn’t make a problem out of it. Just keep letting it go.
Looking back now, I can say that everything has worked out very well. Things happen, and you deal with them. Had I not been disciplined with my thoughts, though, I would’ve continually beat myself up, making me feel a thousand times worse. And had I not known about feelings (including stress), I would’ve felt a thousand times worse. I stuck to the plan, practiced what I preach, and it minimized the pain. I wasn’t exactly in a state of bliss right after this experience, but feeling low for a couple of days isn’t bad after something like that, especially when I’m not exactly printing cash as a new counselor growing his private practice. When I would stress about the financial aspect, I would sit and breathe and feel and let it go. And it would pass. That’s the fast way. I felt the financial stress in my stomach and chest – it’s very interesting noting where we hold different things in the body. But we always drop the story, relax into it, and it can exit our system.
Well, that’s the story about my car. It took the insurance company several days to tow it, and since the electrical didn’t work and I had put the windows up, it was a moldy, mildewy mess. Standing water everywhere. Terrible, terrible stench. Hot, sunny June days. That pathetic sight and smell made me feel very sad that she was going out this way after all we had been through. I felt I had disrespected her. In those moments, though, I had no choice but to once again drop the story and let the sadness totally be there but let it go. Don’t hold onto it.
Now I’m bonding with my new car, which looks remarkably like my old one except newer and a different make. It’s the 2.0 version. All has worked out fine. I had no idea how it would work out at the time, but I had to stop my mind in its tracks whenever I would start to worry about it. Of course the mind would worry about it! That’s normal in that situation. But it’s also useless, so just stop in that moment. Take a breath and get out of the head. And then if I have to do some real thinking, then do it. But the voice in the head was not allowed to do the usual droning on that it likes to do. No negative commentary. Real thinking or not, but no voice in the head.
Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed this recap. The whole point is that I’ve learned how to be more peaceful than I used to be, even when I totally kill my beloved car, and for that I’m very, very grateful. So grateful. This is a path that leads to more and more peace, despite what’s going on in the world. I continue to learn and practice it, and you can too. And it makes all the difference.