There I was on a September Monday morning on the border of VT awaiting a local towing service to take my car to a nearby auto-body shop. It seemed my old-but-new car that I got from a friend back in June had broken down. Again.
I was in VT for that weekend to join a special day-long meditation sit honoring Vipassana founder S. N. Goenka’s birthday happening on Sunday. I arrived the evening before, a Saturday night. I pulled into the parking lot just as darkness fell. It was a gorgeous night, with the auspicious super moon rising in the sky. I parked in a handicapped parking space very near the Centre to unload my stuff. Just as I parked the car’s shifter stuck in DRIVE. It wouldn’t budge. The keys were stuck in the ignition. How apt the handicapped parking designation was! My heart sank. My mind reeled.
Just two weeks before, on yet another Saturday night, I was in CT. I got into my car for the 45 minute drive home after teaching a workshop earlier that day and then hosted a musician friend’s event that evening. The car’s shifter wouldn’t budge from PARK! It was 9:30pm. It was pouring rain. The emergency road service rep let me know no garage or repair shop would be open until the next morning. What kind of car karma was going on! Did my friend know this car had so many issues? Had I bought a lemon of a car? I quickly realized this line of thinking was doing no good. I went into action mode. I called the local police for help. Together we rolled the car into a safe place for the night. The fellow somehow extracted the keys from the ignition, but only after shaking his head and saying “Lady, I used to work on cars before becoming a policeman, and hate to say this, but could be your transmission.”
Great. A dead transmission? In that moment I actually said a prayer to the car karma gods that his prediction please not be so. Then the policeman gave me a lift to a nearby Motel 6, apologizing as he put me in the airless, bullet proof, plastic back seat “chamber” for the short ride. I festered much of the night on how to remedy yet another round of inconvenience with this car, composing endless scenarios in my head about what to do about all the things I was supposed to show up for the next day, about rental cars, about transmissions. The next day it turned out the transmission was involved, but was not dead. That round turned out surprisingly well.
But two weeks later, sitting in that handicapped parking space, I was awestruck at the similarity of the new sequel unfolding.
What would I do?
Choice 1. Freak out. Fester. Blame. Victimize.
Choice 2. Accept. Surrender. Breathe. Trust.
“Choice 1” had not served me at all well when that car-stuck-in-PARK thing happened. In fact, I drove myself batty. So now, with the car-stuck-in-DRIVE thing going on, choosing to surrender and trust was easy. Why wouldn’t I go on with my plan to be at the retreat and reap the benefits I had come to experience, despite a broken car sitting in the parking lot for the weekend! I felt certain no one in this serene setting would jack my unlocked car, even with keys ever so conveniently in the ignition! I had lovely shelter, good vegetarian food to eat and a group of 140 like-minded people to sit with for a day, in silence. Retreat nirvana!
The moment I surrendered into “Choice 2” a gratefulness abounded in every single thing I experienced at the Center. Every interaction. Every kindness. Every bite of food. Every step to the Meditation Hall. Even every meditation period, testy as those can be at times when sitting for hours on end. I discovered at my core the exhaustion I was carrying from a wonderful, but full on, summer of teaching yoga, and the confusion still lingering post a few gnarly, perplexing inter-relational events. I was grateful for the “room” to see and feel this exhaustion during the meditation. I was grateful for the sea change I experienced in body & mind by Monday morning. And I had a “front row seat” for the full lunar eclipse and Blood Moon right from my bed on my unexpected extra night’s stay!
You would think “Surrender & Trust” over something as simple as a car would be an easy choice after my travels in India and S.E. Asia alone and after crossing the country by myself in a tiny old-but-new car. However, I’ve come to understand that choosing trust requires consistent practice – it’a choice to make each day and in every moment. Through trust we can access our own inner compass. After my last round of travels to India in 2007 I had no home to return to but I chose to surrender my fear and welcome the potentiality of the situation, leading me to two wonderful new digs that appeared exactly when I needed them!
While I listen to the rational mind’s insistence to “think things through”, and reflect on cautions it may raise, there is often a deeper “gut” intelligence speaking too. To listen to that inner rudder takes practice. It often includes risk-taking and sometimes requires quick decisiveness…and some might say faith.
Saying “yes” has led to new adventures, new friends and new experiences. In embracing the unknown and trusting its wisdom we empower ourselves to learn, to grow, to love, to make mistakes and learn more about Life, about being human. Our idea of what we “control” is one of the illusions we can choose to see…and to break through.
So remember where this story began with me waiting for the tow on a Monday morning? The flatbed truck arrived at 8:30am. Alex, the driver, hopped into my car. In 75 seconds or less he had it started. “You’re good to go,” he said to me with a big grin. Turns out a tiny part had fallen into the shifter’s base, which locked it in DRIVE. I marveled. Had meditation angels gotten involved to offer me the gift of a longer-than-expected and much needed retreat? No tow was needed. No money required for another repair. I missed just one appointment due to the delay. I showered Alex with all my heartfelt gratitude and then threw my arms around him, giving the burly man a big hug that caused this 6-foot + giant to blush and stammer happily as he climbed back into his tow truck and off he drove to continue his day.
Clearly my old-new-car is some kind of teacher to remind me…choosing trust is a practice.