My Easter weekend started off with a Thursday evening car accident. My cute little Cinquecento had been at the mechanic for a month getting new brakes and some TLC. So, when I got the call that she was ready to come home, I was excited. Even if I was going to be in France for the weekend, I was looking forward to zipping around in my car on the holiday Monday and hoping for some sunshine so I could pop open the sunroof.
What happened next was a complete shock. A few blocks from the mechanic’s I lost all brake capacity! I was hopelessly careening towards a red light and cars in front of me and suddenly felt the impact of being helpless and screwed. Not wanting to hit anyone, I veered my rolling car to the right and into a vacant parking space and hit the parked car in front of it. Upon impact, I heard that dreaded crunch.
Feckkkkkk! My beautiful vintage car! I then engaged the hand brake and had another moment of feckkkkk, why didn’t I think to use the hand brake earlier? I was so focussed on not hitting people and avoiding the intersection that my instinct told me to crank the wheel and break my fall sort of speak. I even jumped the curb and one wheel ended up on the sidewalk. Thankfully, no one was walking on it in that moment.
My car was damaged, but I am fine. I called my friend, he called the mechanic and he came to the scene. We moved my car to a safer position and he promised me he would take care of everything while I was in France eating macarons. The parked van I hit had merely a scratch. The owner was standing on the sidewalk and saw everything. He was a Morrocan fruit vendor and very sweet about the whole ordeal. I then walked home and tried to make sense out of what had just happened.
I posted photos on Facebook and realized how lucky I had been. What if I was killed? Or killed someone else? I heard things like fire your mechanic and don’t buy that car, they aren’t safe. I also heard don’t go to Paris after the attacks in November too. And in 1990, when the Gulf war broke, I was told don’t go to Turkey.
Guess what? I went to Turkey in 1990 and Paris in 2016. I bought the car and will not fire my mechanic. If I lived my life in fear, I would never know pure joy. By the time I got home from my involuntary walk, I was thrilled to still be alive! A broken car can be fixed. My mechanic screwed up maybe. But how many of us screw things up every day? We are human after all. I still trust that he will do the best he can.
I believe in being sensible. I am not one of those extreme people who push the limits and do dangerous things just to get a cheap thrill. I don’t feel the need to push my luck everyday by doing stupid, dangerous things. But I also like to have fun and sometimes having fun means taking some risks. As Shirley Maclean once wrote, “if you want the fruit from the tree, sometimes you have to go out on a limb”.
But let’s observe for a minute what I am really talking about here. I’m talking about doing every day things like going on a vaction somewhere nice and driving a car. The reality is that anything can happen, anywhere, anytime.
FEAR is a four letter word. It freezes us. Stops us from living to our full, beautiful potential. Having a little fear is natural and I believe we should always follow our gut instinct just like an animal would do. It can be useful to save our lives.
LOVE is also a four letter word. Wouldn’t it be a shame if we never experienced it because fear of failure, loss and hurt got in the way?
Next time you hear the voices of fear coming at you from others or inside your head, ask yourself what JOY will I miss out on if I listen to the fear? Always follow your gut, never, ever, do something if it doesn’t feel right.
But for the love of joy, put a little faith in your steps and erase the fear for what is can often be. The naysayers who want the opportunity to say I told you so. The people who believe that changing mechanics would change your fate. The people who love you and want to protect you at all times.
This last one I know quite well. For five years I kept my cat indoors for fear of losing her. But when I finally let go of my fear, watching her joyfully run and play through the fields of tall grass filled my heart with life and love.
I had to trust that she would come home and she did. Did she break a few teeth? Yes. Did she get stuck in the neighbor’s yard and have to be rescued more than once? Yes. Did she catch a giant snake and try wrestling it to the ground? Yes. I think that’s how she broke her teeth!
But she learned and soon paced herself. She realized that midday was hot and got some sense to return home and rest on the cool tiles in the living room instead of running and getting overheated (the first 3 days she was wild and required a trip to the vet because of heat exhaustion).
Overall, she probably had the best summer of her life. She taught me that it was ok to worry a bit and observe and intervene when necessary but also to release my fear and let her experience the true joy of being a cat. Amazing how much we can learn from our pets, isn’t it?