Normally, I write about what is personal to you…your relationships, life, troubles. Today, I am writing, uncharacteristically, about myself.
Last night, I awoke at 1 am for the routine blood sugar check of my son who has Type 1 diabetes. Due to some minor medical issues, I ended up being awake until 2 am. As I finally returned to bed to sleep, it was clear that my body was in active mode so I got up and headed for the living room to do some computer work.
Pretty soon it was 5:30 am and dawn was about to break, I moved to open the nearby window allowing the cool breeze to flow in. As I glanced in front of my home, I saw a dark figure opening my car door and finding residence in my car. It took my mind a few seconds to catch up. Is that my car? Is that the neighbors’ car? Is that really a person sitting in the front seat? Before I had time to think my actions through, I ran outside stopping about 10 feet from the assailant, fierce in my pink pajamas and bare feet and stated loud and firm, “Dude, that’s my car!”
I think the 20-year-old male was as surprised as I was both with my sudden appearance and my curious choice of words. Sheepishly, he looked up at me from his seat startled. He made direct and gentle eye contact with me, opened the door, shrugged his shoulders and waved his hands a bit in a helpless motion and replied, “Oh! Yeah. Sorry.”
His response was much like someone who inadvertently deposits produced into the wrong shopping cart at the grocery store. As if to say, “My mistake! Your car looks JUST like mine!”
The young man walked to the back of my vehicle, casually looked up to see his partner-in-crime approaching us about 20 feet away. And they sauntered off down the street. Two friends on an early morning stroll the morning after a good rain.
Life Lesson #1: We like having partners.
I know how important relationships are in our lives. Our intimate relationships, professional relationships, our social ties, the spiritual communities that we form, the groups that we join where we find like-minded friends…and…our partners in crime.
Human beings are hard-wired to be in a relationship. We like being witnessed and supported by others. We enjoy sharing our experiences with others…both the celebrations and the failures.
It is quite hard for us to go out on our own. To break from the fold. To try something new or daring all alone. We find solace with others who can reflect our enough-ness. Even when our enough-ness is being a good enough car thief.
Life Lesson #2: Vulnerability is, somehow, natural.
When the police officer arrived to take the report from me at 5:45 am and I recounted my story, he looked at me, standing now in my bath robe in my front yard, and said, “Ma’am, it is never a good idea to approach an assailant in your pajamas.” Funny. At the time, I didn’t even think about that.
I didn’t think about whether or not the men had guns or knives. My nature arose from within and simply moved me to be quite vulnerable in the face of potential danger. Had I taken the time to actually THINK about it, I might have sorted through the rational choices and weighed the dangers before responding. I would have thought that I had no way to defend myself, I wasn’t even wearing shoes, and I was approaching a person who had something rather sinister on his agenda.
How often does our nature call us to be vulnerable in situations? To shout, “I love you!” first or to weep openly with a broken heart. But then our mind gets involved and instructs us, “Don’t say that! You will look stupid. You might get hurt. They might make fun of you!” Our minds, to their credit, are doing their best to line up our actions with past experiences in order to assess the “rightness” of the present choice. Unfortunately, this can prevent us from acting, from showing up, and from something new or fresh happening.
Life Lesson #3: Gratitude is always an option.
I must admit that at the wee hours of the morning, I was thinking to myself, “Why can’t I sleep? What am I doing up for 4 hours in the middle of the night?” Had I been able to sleep, I likely would not have been opening my living room window at 5:30 am. I would not have seen the man in my car and would not have been able to stop a potential burglary.
Whether you call it God, the Creator, the Universe or coincidence…whatever it is in your life, it feels good to believe that the World is conspiring to help us. It feels good to believe that everything unfolds as it should even when in the moment it may feel frightening or unpleasant. How different life can be when we can be unabashedly open to gratitude.
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