Thursday, April 4, 2013

Don't Forget the Small Stuff

A couple of years ago I got stuck in a car wash.
I drove my car in, the doors closed behind me and nothing happened. No water. No spinning brushes. No flashing lights. No colored foam. Nothing.
I sat there, all kinds of questions running through my brain.
Do I get out of my car?
What if I do and I become a human dish in an over sized human dishwasher?
Do I leave my car running, because it’s pretty darn cold in here and I don’t want to freeze?
How long does it take to be overcome by carbon monoxide?
What will the headlines say?

Local Woman Dies in Car Wash
Sandy Woman all Washed Up

I decided to get out of my car.
I pushed the “In case of emergency button”.
Nada.
I pushed it again. Still nothing.
I walked to both doors and tried to pull them up but they did not budge.
I found a side exit, a glass door, frozen over with ice. After trying the handle, I slammed my body against it twice. The door remained tightly shut and my shoulder started to throb.
I heard a car drive up to the car wash and I started to yell.

“Hey, I’m stuck in here. Help! Help!”

I pounded on the door. I could hear the engine and the radio. I could hear someone punching buttons. Unfortunately, they could not hear me. The car sat for a few minutes as I yelled, then backed up and drove away.
I tried to call the gas station, but they did not answer. Finally, I called the police who connected me to emergency dispatch and my car wash rescue was under way.

In the end, I lost 2 hours. I got my 8 dollars back. My car remained dirty and my friends and family were amused. All in all, it was an experience. Not a good one, but not a bad one either. And yet, every time I go to wash my car, I think about this event. Like a child once burned by a hot stove, as I inch toward the car wash doors I think twice…I enter cautiously… and if it is even remotely cold outside…I just drive away. My life was changed by a car wash.

Walking past my oh so dirty car today, I had this thought:

“It is the unexpected things that so often change us most.”

When I look back on my life I am surprised at what sticks. I’m surprised by the simple memories that remain when I can’t recall even the slightest details of bigger events. I’m in awe of how inadvertently I learned some of my most important lessons.

I love the book “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” but I want to write a sequel. “Don’t Forget the Small Stuff”.
Don’t take it for granted. Don’t underestimate the power of little things.
Don’t forget to take stock of why love exists,
or strength appears
or where fear comes from.
Don’t forget to notice which unexpected things changed you for the better and which changed you in ways you didn’t really want to change at all.
When you realize the latter, do something unexpected. Adjust the outcome.

It is the unexpected things that so often change us most.

With that in mind, despite the cold weather, I’m going to wash my car.